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1. September Eureka Moments

Even if you don’t work in a school media center, I’m guessing your life still tends to run on an academic schedule when you work with teens. So welcome to the new school year! Here’s what I think might be interesting, useful, or intriguing to you and your patrons this month.

  • If your teens are interested in what’s new in the going green movement, have them look more globally to see what’s going on. In coastal Ecuador, young people from farming families are heading up efforts to save, cultivate, and redistribute heirloom seeds to revitalize the environment and help farmers prosper. Part of an organization called FOCCAHL, 20-year-old Cesar Guale Vasquez travels throughout nearby areas collecting seeds from farmers and also hosts swapping events so that farmers can trade seeds with each other in order to have more vibrant and diverse crops. Now take that for inspiration and add to it your own library’s resources on climate change, farming, and nutrition and plan an interesting program that combines science with activism and see what your advisory board wants to do with it. Many libraries now are creating their own seed libraries, and whether they’re for wildflowers or corn, they can be a great way to bring communities together, get young people to work with older people, and freshen up your local environment while doing your small part to keep the world cleaner and greener.
    Matthews, J. (2012). Ecuador’s seed savior. World Ark, May 2012: 10-15.
  • At the beginning of the school year, many teens are interested in refining or experimenting with their personal style. There is generally no shortage of mainstream fashion and beauty advice in the magazines and books you have in your collection already, but there might be a population you’re missing, and they’re getting bigger and more vocal. While the natural hair trend has been growing for years, the recent O Magazine cover presenting Oprah Winfrey with her hair relaxer-free has sparked a lot of talk. The social news web is blowing up with discussions of hegemony (the prevalence of hair relaxers in the African American community has been linked to unrealistic standards of white beauty), harassment (nearly everyone with natural curls, regardless of race, has experienced strangers touching their hair without asking first), and self image (who decides what’s beautiful, and is it more important to do what you think is pretty on you or to make a political statement with your hair?). Take a look at the reports of the Oprah cover at Sociological Images and Jezebel (it’s worth taking a look at the comments, too, but they’re probably NSFW and can get heated), and then consider hosting a discussion club or making a display of books on beauty. If you’re not sure where to start, I suggest Naturally Curly, one of the premiere websites (with social components, news, and shopping) for natural hair of all textures.
  • STEM, STEM, STEM. Everybody wants students to engage with science, technology, engineering and math. Federal money is pumped into it. Grants support it. But do teens and tweens care for it? In a study of middle school students, researchers analyzed both boys’ and girls’ wishful identification with scientists on television shows to see what factors influenced positive feelings (possibly indicating an interest in pursuing a science career or hobby). They found that boys were more likely to identify with male scientists and girls with female scientists, which is unsurprising. What was more interesting is that the genre of the television show affected the positive feelings. Scientist characters on dramas were more likely to elicit wishful identification than those on cartoons or educational programs. What can you do with this information? Plenty. For your next film screening, try a drama or documentary that presents scientists in a good light, like Cool It, And the Band Played On, or Einstein and Eddington. If you want to take a crack at those who think that being good at science or math makes you a loser, connect STEM with the things teens already love, like working out, YouTube, and the Web by taking a look at the 35 fittest people in tech, videos by Vi Hart, who turns mathematical concepts and history into snarky audiovisual narratives, or how-tos at Lifehacker.
    Steinke, J., et al. (2011). Gender Differences in Adolescents’ Wishful Identification With Scientist Characters on Television. Science Communication, 34(2): 163-199.
  • Whether you’re in library school or you’ve been working for years, you might find Hack Library School’s new starter kit series interesting, especially their post on services to children. Anyone want to volunteer to write the starter kit for youth services? On a related note, Teen Librarian Toolbox has a post on what to do about all that stuff they don’t teach you in library school (I’m taking notes).
  • If you’ve been trying to find a way to collaborate with nearby schools, see if you can get an advisory group to have a meeting with local teachers (it might be a good idea to make sure that the teachers are not teachers of the teens in your group so as to encourage openness and honesty) and start a dialogue. The topic? Standardized tests. Students may feel like teachers are against them, while teachers probably feel as if it’s administrators who are forcing them to be uncreative. So how do you get all sides to understand each other when schools are still tied to federal standards? For background information, try the journal Rethinking Schools‘ spring 2012 issue, which featured a special section on standardized tests. After a good discussion, maybe everyone can take fun “standardized tests” on personality types, books, or any other fun topics. Then see if students, teachers, and you can work together and form some sort of coalition that bridges the gaps between inside- and outside-of-school education, engagement, and issues. Start a collaborative blog. Take turns hosting book clubs at different places that feel like home to the different stakeholders in your group. What might be an interesting year-long project is to get everyone in the group to develop their ultimate standardized test to replace the ones they’re taking or proctoring in school. What skills do teachers and students think are most important to have before leaving the K-12 system? What topics do people in the real world need to know? Is it better to test knowledge orally? With essays? With student-led, student-designed creative projects? With their perspectives and your skills with information seeking, along with your vast collections, you should be able to create a really interesting partnership. And if you need more inspiration, check out these roundups of education blogs by both students and teachers, both here and here.

What are your plans for this upcoming academic year? As always, your questions, comments and suggestions are welcomed and encouraged!

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2. Justifying Teen Programs

For some of us, it’s an uphill battle advocating for the teens in our libraries. Budgets are never quite large enough, there’s never enough time to do everything, so if any group gets the short end of the stick, it’s our teens. We all know how important it is to have teen programming and teen spaces and an excellent teen collection, but it can be difficult getting the higher-ups to see it our way. You might find, as I have, that you need to justify your teen programs beyond getting teens in the door.

No one really questions the benefits of Storytime for the kids. It’s fairly obvious how it fits in with the library’s mission. A teen Halloween party, on the other hand, might be subject to more scrutiny. Recently, I found out that the Halloween party I’d been planning for our teens didn’t pass muster in its current state. It wasn’t enough to try something to increase our program attendance. Our circ starts are awesome, but we have an unfortunate floor plan for our teens, so they don’t really have a place of their own to hang out. They get their books and go, which has made it a lot harder in creating relationships and encouraging them to come to programs. There was no way I was giving up on this party. Instead of a Halloween party, it’s now a Favorite Character party, where you must come dressed as your favorite book character (and act the part, if you’re really good).  The activities we’ll have will tie in to our collection, like YA horror trivia, and we’ll be more book-focused than Halloween-focused.

The key to justifying a program or a service for teens is two-parted. First, tie it to your library’s mission. Say that your mission statement includes words like informational and enriching your community. There you go. Teens are part of the community and the Favorite Character party will enrich their lives by widening their exposure to the YA collection and allowing them to use their creativity to enhance what they’ve read to a tangible form while testing their knowledge and sparking their interest to seek more information about the horror genre.

Second, beyond the direct result of such a program, look for other possible objectives. For example, providing a program for teens not only accomplishes the objectives of the program, but also gives teens a feeling of being welcome in the library. Teens who feel welcome in the library may be more interested in volunteer opportunities at the library. Teens who volunteer can take over tasks, such as shelving or shelf reading, from staff members, who are then free to complete other tasks. This in turn can lead to improved customer service because staff members will be able to spend more time with patrons and will be less stressed about helping someone with a particularly difficult or time-consuming problem because they will know that they have the time to devote to the problem.

It would be great if we could have teen programs just because they’re fun and it’s what our teens want, but a lot of us are under constraints that are out of our hands. Being prepared to justify your programs might mean that you’ll need to broaden your focus to find the positive outcomes.

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3. Embedded Librarianship

A major goal of every YA librarian is to increase her market share, that is, to increase the number of teenagers using her library and those teens’ level of engagement in the library.  In my experience, the most reliable and lasting way to accomplish this goal is for the YA librarian to actively embed herself in her community.

When I moved to Mitchell, I had no ties to the community: I knew nobody except the library staff who interviewed me, and the only time I had been in town was the one day I drove out for the interview from 400 miles away.  From this thin knowledge base, I have in three years fostered connections throughout the community that grew my library’s offerings from 7 youth programs a year to nearly 200, 8 summer reading program community partners to 16, and 0 grants earned in the prior 6 years to 3 in the 3 years of my tenure.   I have fostered new partnerships with local homeschool groups, the elementary schools’ teacher groups and principals, the high school science department, the local state park, an assisted living facility for youth, the pregnancy care center, the charity consignment shop, 4H, youth groups at a local faith-based agency, 100% of listed preschools in our taxing district, and more.  These successes are largely due to embedding myself in the community.

When moving to Mitchell, I made the conscious choice to become engaged in the community.  I leased an apartment in walking distance to the library, shopped for a church, volunteered at local charitable events, attended community meetings, and generally stomped the pavement for the combined purposes of making myself known and publicizing the library.  When attending school board meetings, dropping off brochures at preschools, and even when buying groceries, I introduced myself as “Jacqui the Librarian” to give people a person to connect to the library building.

Following the age-old advice that “you have two ears and one mouth, use them proportionally”, I spent the vast majority of my first year getting to know the community’s priorities, concerns, prime movers, and average citizens.  I also let them know me, so that they felt they had a personal connection at the library.  From there, in my second and third years I was able to make scores of suggestions for collaborations with the library, new initiatives for patrons, and personalized suggestions for library usage.  Again and again to every group who would listen (and plenty who wouldn’t), I suggested how the library could assist them in accomplishing their own goals; and again and again, they took me up on my offers.

You too can find collaborative opportunities by embedding yourself in the community.  Wherever possible, I would encourage you to live in the same area as your patrons, attend social events that they attend, volunteer with charities that serve your patrons, and always be prepared to represent the library.  Wherever your library is and whatever size your YA department takes, you can increase its market share in teenagers present and engaged by building collaborations within your community, to the ultimate effect that you serve more patrons and in more diverse ways, create funding opportunities, and increase community support for your library.

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4. ALA Midwinter: Observations from a First-Time Attendee

My colleague, YALSA member, ALA Emerging Leader, and first time conference attendee agreed for me to post her observations of Midwinter. I’ve no doubt we’ll be hearing from her more often! A warm welcome to Catherine Haydon!

I’ll admit that I’m a bit jet-lagged, over-caffeinated, and used every ounce of remaining energy I had to be enthusiastic and on-point for an outreach visit to a local middle school once I returned from Dallas– but today’s slugglishness was definitely worth the amazing experience attending my first ALA Midwinter Conference. I’m participating in the 2012 ALA Emerging Leaders Program and had the opportunity to learn more about the organizational structure of both ALA and YALSA, as well as observe ALA and YALSA leaders in action throughout the conference. I sat in on a YALSA Board of Directors meeting and was pretty impressed with our leaders. Connecting with and providing support for librarians, whether in school or public libraries, in order to ultimately engage and empower teens was kept at the core of every topic they discussed; I observed a particularly engaging discussion on ways YALSA can partner with state library associations in order to have the greatest impact on teen-serving library staff.

While in Dallas, I also braved a chilly morning walk and attended “YALSA 201,” a short session that provided information on how members can get more involved in YALSA. I’ve been a YALSA member for five years and have relied on programming, technology and advocacy resources developed by various YALSA Committees and Taskforces to get me through my day-to-day work with teens. I’m sure it was the buzz and excitement that came with finally being at an ALA Conference, plus all the friendly encounters I had with YALSA folks, but I got the final push I needed and feel that it’s now my time to contribute to YALSA. I’m excited to work on YALSA’s project through the ALA Emerging Leaders Program and hope to serve on a committee or two in the next few years.

Now that I’m back at home, several colleagues have asked me about my favorite experience at Midwinter. I’ve shrugged some folks off or just replied that I enjoyed the entire experience, but when I thought a bit harder there’s one moment that really stood out. It was Monday morning during the ALA Youth Media Awards, and specifically when they were announcing the Morris Award finalists and winner. A group of librarians several rows in front of me jumped up and screamed loudly when YALSA President Sarah Flowers announced Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

as the winner; while my attention was initially focused on the group of excited librarians ahead, I was distracted by the librarian sitting directly in front of me who leaned over to her neighbor and whispered, “That’s it! That’s the book I was telling you I wanted to recommend to Drew. He comes by the library every afternoon and I know he’d love it.” Miles away from home and sitting in a theater with hundreds of fellow librarians so focused on the books, this librarian remained focused on the teens she served. As the next award was announced, I smiled and silently thanked the librarian for reminding me why I was there – to connect teens with books. I spent the remainder of the awards presentation thinking about these new award-winning titles and the ways in which they would engage, inspire and challenge the teens at my library.

Was this your first time attending an ALA Conference? If so, I’d love to h

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5. To Err is Human

To Err is Human. It is also human to look for a scape goat, make excuses and wrap denial around ourselves like a cloak of invisibility. Alina Tugend, author of Better by Mistake, summarizes the process in her book. However, I think we can all recognize the steps we take to distance ourselves from mistakes.  For example…

In December, I had a holiday party for our library’s anime club. The teens had been asking me for an anime trivia game, and I kept putting it off because I thought it would suck.  I figured that I would do trivia at the Holiday Party. It would be like a special treat. I was delusional.  I spent days coming up with trivia questions. I sat in my living room watching anime taking notes. I consulted the listserves. I read and reread fan sites and Wikipedia. I took online anime trivia tests. I drove myself mad writing questions.  I stood in front of them with my list of questions, and they answered me with blank stares. There were 14 kids. They got 1/10 questions I wrote down. My more outspoken teens gave it to me straight. “Those series are old, I don’t know what you are talking about.” I kept my head on right. I started making up new questions on the spot, but I also started making excuses. Internally I was passing blame to the teens. “They should have told me what series they wanted me to draw from” and “I’m not a thirteen year old girl, I’ve never read Chibi vampire.”

In her book, Alina Tugend relates the definition of error established by James Reason, a Professor of Psychology in England. “Reason defines error as the failure of a planned sequence of mental or physical activities to achieve its intended outcome when these failures cannot be attributed to chance.”  I knew things had not gone as planned. The teens were not so overjoyed with my trivia they raised me on their shoulders and elected me King Nerd.  It was clear to me, that I had failed somewhere.

That night I laid in bed reflecting on my day and my errors. I was still frustrated with how the program went. But I was frustrated with myself.  I had finally begun removing the layers of bull shit that I constructed to protect my ego. My father says “every failure is your friend.”  I made a lot of new friends that day.  I went over my own performance with a fine toothed comb.  I found a lot of them.  My mistakes were not limited to the execution of trivia, my buddy and co-worker Peter made sure I knew that. But the trivia stood out in my mind.

One, I should have asked them the kind of trivia questions they’d like. I could have easily asked them what series they would have liked too. Two, I could have had them help me write questions a few months ago when they first brought it up. Three, writing trivia the same week you have library school assignments is unintelligent at best.  Four, and this is the most important, it’s not about you it’s about them.  Five, I’ll say it again; I could have had them help me to write the questions.  No matter how badly I wanted to be right, or how hard I worked. If they were not satisfied, then I needed to look for my errors. After that, the rest were easy to see.

We all know we make mistakes. The thing that is hard to do is own them. Not just confess them, but internalize them. Make them a part of yourself and your fiber in a positive way.  No matter how difficult, the steps are simple.

1)      Stop making excuses to yourself and others – Admitting failure is like swimming in the ocean on a hot summer’s day. I dread the cold of the water going in, but once I’m in I love it. Really.

2)      In the words of my father “First stop the bleeding, the system can be overhauled later.” – The other day, three teens come in looking for memoirs in a short period of time, so my coworker put a cart of books together in under ten minutes. It is mistake Triage. Changing tactics in the middle of something is scary, but if you realize you are failing, do it with style. Go the extra mile.<

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6. My Top Ten Favorite YA Websites

For this post I thought I would share my personal top 10 favorite YA websites.  Of course, the YALSA Blog would be on this list, as I check it at least once a week.  It is a great resource for YA librarians and for people who work with youth in general.  But, since you’re on the blog, reading this post, I’m going to assume you’re already aware of the awesomeness of the blog:)  The sites are listed in no particular order, with the exception of number 1, which deserves to be there. Please feel free to share your favorite sites in the comments section!

Number 1 http://socialtimes.com/ Social Times

I discovered this website over the summer and it has become my all time favorite website.  It has all kinds of different information that is pertinent to our field.  It gives quality info about all things digital. It has information about new technology that is coming out, new websites, old websites, any current news going on in the world of technolgy. This website helps me to stay on top of many different areas of my  job and gives me the knowledge to competently speak on current issues in our field.

In edition to all of this useful information, it also has a very cool web video section.  Every week the editor puts together viral youtube clips on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Whenever I am stuck trying to find something to post on my library system’s teen Facebook page, I just go to this section and find a funny video to post – total lifesaver!

Number 2- www.teenreads.com Teen Reads

This is a great source for checking out new (and old) YA titles.  This site offers reviews of newly released or soon to be released YA books.  It has booklists and resources for starting a teen book club. It has author interviews- some are podcasts, some are written.  I’ve also seen video book reviews on this site.  You can sign up for their monthly newsletter so you don’t have to remember to check it all the time. There’s also fun stuff- like polls and all kinds of different giveaways ( I enter every month and haven’t won anything yet.  I still keep trying- it’s gotta be my turn sooner or later, right?).

Number 3- www.etsy.com Etsy

I’m going to assume most childrens and YA people know about Etsy.  It’s a website where people sell handmade crafts and crafting supplies.  Don’t judge it yet- there are REALLY nice things on Etsy. If you’ve heard of it and have been meaning to check it out, today is the day.  When I’m totally stuck on what to do for a teen program, I check out Etsy. There are all kinds of different craft categories and I just start browsing through for inspiration. Some of the things they sell are really cheap. ( I also just found out about www.regretsy.com  – crazy stuff found on etsy and similar sites- funny stuff:)

Number 4- http://www.the4yablog.com/ 4YA

I decided to just go ahead and keep with the craft theme and mention the 4YA blog here. One of my co-workers had this site up one day when I came to take my turn at the desk. HELLO- it’s awesome!  It has all kinds of great ideas for YA librarians to use from program ideas and crafts,plus useful information about things like new gaming systems and video game reviews.  It has a focus on outreach oppurtunities.

Number 5- http://www.webjunction.org/1 Webjunction

Do you need to brush up on your reader’s advisory?  Want some tips on how to deal with unhappy patrons?  Tyring to figure out what ereader is the best for your library system?  Have no fear, webjunction is here.  The website has fantastic FREE webinars for library workers.  I have listened to three or four dif

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7. Trading Spaces: Visiting Each Other’s Libraries

Gretchen came up with the idea of visiting Erin when we found out that our libraries (in southern Connecticut and southwestern Massachusetts respectively) are not terribly far from one another. We were looking for a cultural exchange: to see what was new and exciting in each other’s libraries and teen programs. It’s also just fun to meet Internet friends in real life. (Thanks for introducing us, YALSA and Twitter!) Here’s what we found.

Gretchen’s visit:
I asked Erin if I could visit for one of her anime club meetings because my manga club is one of the most consistently well-attended programs I run, but I feel like I need more ideas and a better sense of how more established clubs work as mine finds its stride.

Erin’s library is beautiful both outside and inside, with tall ceilings, pleasant lighting, and wood accents everywhere. Their children’s room is downright magical.

After giving me a tour, Erin walked me through their summer reading club: participants log the number of hours they read, earning prizes for reaching different levels. They’re also automatically entered into weekly raffles for bigger prizes. I really liked how she has the raffle prizes on display in the teen area, and I liked that raffle winners selected the prize they wanted from everything that was on display, rather than having specific prizes given away on designated weeks. I also love that she’s giving away a couple of ARCs, billing them as “not even published yet!” That makes the prizes–and reading–more exciting and cool.

Erin’s summer reading program runs on Evanced’s Summer Reader, and she showed me how kids log their reading, how the service desk staff members help teens collect their prizes, and how she selects raffle winners using the software. Since my summer reading club is in its first year, I’m doing everything online by hand using forms on my library’s website and spreadsheets in Google Docs. It’s worked reasonably well, but it’s been more complicated and time-consuming than Erin’s program. I’m hoping to make the case to my administration for  summer reading software next year, and being able to see it in action helped.

Teens had gathered outside the room before the anime club meeting, some even coming to the library an hour early just to hang out and read. Once everyone had arrived, Erin unfurled this big (like, the size of the conference table big) collaborative drawing the club had been working on. My manga club has a lot of aspiring artists in it, so I am definitely going to bring this idea back to them!

We watched the first episode of America’s Greatest Otaku and an episode or two of Black Butler, and then, for the last few minutes of the meeting, Erin announced it was Random Stuff on the Internet Time, where teens could show their favorite anime-related things, so long as they were library-appropriate. Lots of kids had anime music videos (AMVs) they wanted everyone to see. I like that her club isn’t just about passively watching: it’s also about finding cool things and sharing them with others.

Erin’s visit:
I went to visit Gretchen’s library last week. She works in an older building, in a well-off suburban town. The older building requires a bit of wandering to find things, but I found that as

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8. Getting the Rest of the Staff Involved

I am noticing a big problem at a lot of libraries – mine in particular, since, you know, I’m there a lot.  The problem is that the teen patrons only talk to the teen librarian. When I’m not there, reference questions go unasked.  Books stay missing.  Computers go unused.  They are scared to talk to anyone else.  A girl approached me that had been looking for a book for three weeks that was sitting on the shelves the whole time because she was too intimidated to ask anyone but me what the call number meant.

The kids, being kids and all, come in after school and are noisy.  Shocking to all of you, I know.  Since when are kids noisy?  It bothers other patrons and usually ends with a staff member scolding them.  This scolding is usually the only time the teen patrons interact with any other members of the library staff.  They only know people I think of as helpful and kind as yelling, angry adults.  Thus, they avoid them.  I am in the YA room nearly every day for multiple hours, so I am a familiar, friendly (I hope) face.  I have talked to them, so they know that they can talk to me.  The rest of the staff are all really fantastic people that would be happy to help the teen patrons, but the teens are afraid and refuse to approach them.

I’m doing my best to encourage the teens to go to the staff with their questions.  I have supplied the other reference librarians with book lists and summer reading lists so that they are well-equipped for reader’s advisory and other YA questions.  As you all well know, the teen years are when libraries lose most patrons.  I want to make sure that we are showing these kids that the library is a place they are welcome to be in.  If they feel welcome, they will keep coming here well past their teen years.  The question is how to get my staff involved?  I am guessing that many of you have dealt with a similar problem.  What did you do?  I’d love some advice to make my teen population feel more comfortable.

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9. The Perks of Collaboration

Any teen librarian who is fortunate enough to work with a talented children’s librarian knows that the possibilities for collaborating on innovative programs are endless, providing youth from birth to young adulthood with programming that meets their developmental, social, and educational needs. If you haven’t taken the opportunity to work closely with your children’s librarian on a project, there’s no better time than now to do so. Why collaborate? Here are three good reasons:

1. Youth-oriented resource
While teens aren’t their primary focus, children’s librarians are just as concerned with the development of youth as teen librarians, so working together on collaborative programs not only benefits the youth the library serves but the librarians themselves. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that there’s another resource within the library who understands the unique demands of serving youth and shares your vision on how to do so; someone whose support and knowledge are invaluable tools, especially when working together on tween programs and those that provide mentoring possibilities for teens. Joint teen/children’s projects can provide librarians with much-needed resource-sharing and insight.

2. Assets builder
Collaborative programs can provide teens with opportunities to mentor younger participants, and in some settings, earn the teens service credit as volunteers. Not only do these joint efforts reinforce many of the 40 Developmental Assets for adolescents, but they effectively and organically grow future teen participants in library programs. For example, our system has offered a successful “Reading Buddies” program for years, and many of the teen “Big Buddies” who mentored young readers this past summer are “Little Buddies” graduates and are equally as comfortable working with the children’s librarian as they are with the teen librarian. Programs such as this help develop strong, self-actualized teens while encouraging children to see themselves as future library leaders.

3. Entertaining process and product
Who else can appreciate teen programs such as creating “Gocks” or playing extreme musical chairs? Why, the same person who makes paper plate masks: the children’s librarian, of course! Brainstorming with the children’s librarian when you’re seemingly fresh out of ideas will get both of your creative juices flowing, and when the intent is to come up with a joint program that will attract youth to the library, then bouncing ideas off one another may result in something that can be developed into an engaging and innovative program. Turn the library into a giant game board? We can do that! Have teens help children build and decorate spooky, edible gingerbread houses in October? No problem! There’s no limit to what can be accomplished when teen and children’s librarians work together.

Whether you’re looking to expand your programming repertoire, create volunteer opportunities for your teens, or just find a comrade-in-arms, then look no further than your friendly children’s librarian, one of the best resources for a teen librarian. You’ll be glad you did.

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10. How to Make the Most of Your Teen Collection

You’ve got the materials. You’ve got the space. So, what can a teen librarian do to draw the teens in and get the books in their hands? A lot, actually. What follows is a brief list of some of the techniques that can be used to make the most of your teen collection.

1. Displays, displays, displays!
By far the easiest way to highlight new books to your collection, under-the-radar reads, and staff favorites. Themed displays work well to capture those audience members who like a particular genre or subject, but eclectic displays can also be just as effective. (Blue-covered books, anyone?) Let the display do all the work for you.
2. Cross-merchandise
Filling displays with books is a no-brainer, but don’t forget to include other formats including audiobooks, Playaways, music CDs, magazines, and whatever else you may have available to enhance your displays and invite potential use.
3. Build the buzz
Create a display featuring books that are in high demand—if you can keep them on the shelves—and include a visual that indicates when the sequel is due. Not only does it answer readers’ questions about when the next book will be coming out, it also builds anticipation and discussion between yourself and your teens.
4. Highlight crossover authors
The YA publishing industry is still going strong, and many authors who have typically written for an adult audience are finding that there’s an untapped teen market out there. Best-selling authors including James Patterson, John Grisham, Jacquelyn Mitchard, and Harlan Coben have made the leap into young adult fiction, so featuring their work not only introduces teens to well-established writers but also draws adults into the amazing world of YA books.
5. Make use of your TAB
What better way to get the word out about your library’s materials and resources than by having the teens themselves do the marketing for you in a convincing, authentic way.
6. Tag your titles
If your library catalog supports a tagging system, such as Encore, used by the Cuyahoga County Public Library system, then make use of it! Tagging your books allows similar titles to be linked to each other, so when searching the catalog by tag, other like-minded titles will appear as well. It’s a great way to “recommend” titles to those patrons who’d rather discover books on their own.

Of course, these are just a few of the ways to feature what you have in your collection, and really, there’s no wrong way to do this. Experiment with different approaches, be creative, and have fun; if you can do these things, then your teens will get what they want and need from your collection.

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11. 30 Days of How-To #24: How to Keep Going

Last spring some library school students asked me how to avoid burn-out. We’d been talking in class about all of the activities that librarians serving teens needed to be involved in – collection development, advocacy, programming, management, outreach, personal professional development, technology, and so on. When I was asked the question I had to stop for a little while and think about my answer. Here’s how I did answer:

  • Be involved in professional organizations that help you to re-energize by talking to others outside of your personal work location. Talk with those in these organizations about library and non-library topics. When I talked about this with students it became very clear to me that this is a key piece of my involvement in YALSA. It’s through my active participation in the association that I am able to keep refreshed and excited about teens and teen library services. I am always talking with other YALSA members about new ideas, ways to overcome challenges, the positives of teens, and so on. As a result I don’t get burned-out I get excited by possibilities.  National, local, and regional organizations can all provide refreshing opportunities for those working in teen services.
  • Don’t take things personally.  Some days may be really hard. The teens, administration, colleagues, community members, parents, teachers, everyone might seem like they are against YOU. But, they are not. They might have trouble understanding an idea you want to work on or provide the support you think is necessary. But, it’s about the ideas and the support not about YOU as the person initiating those ideas and looking for that support.
  • Do new things. This is actually something that should be pretty easy when working with teens. Since trends and interests of the age group change regularly it’s possible to frequently update collections, programs, initiatives, and so on. I know it’s easy to get into a rut and repeat what you’ve done before. I know that by doing what’s been successful at another time you don’t have to spend as much time planning and implementing something new. However, if what you do becomes rote and old-hat then it can become boring to you and stale to teens. By doing new things as much as possible, it’s possible to get excited all over again, every day, about teens and teen services.
  • Take risks that give you the opportunity to try new things and get ideas about how best to serve teens in the community.  Risks can be scary, but if you go into endeavors that seem risky with the knowledge and understanding that it’s OK to make mistakes in order to learn what will be successful with teens, then you can look at risk-taking as a way to improve service. Not all risks are worth taking, but don’t treat all risks as something that should never be done. Analyze each risky possibility and go forward with some of them.
  • Don’t let history rule your library life. What this means is to be careful not to think, “Oh we tried that and it didn’t work.” Or, “The director has vetoed this kind of thing before so I’m not even going to attempt getting it going again.” The thing is, you never know. Maybe the first time you tried that program that didn’t work you and the teens didn’t have all of the pieces you needed in order to make it a success. Or, maybe since you talked with the director about an idea last time he’s had some new information or has been thinking about it and has changed his mind. You won’t know unless you give up history and try again.
  • Talk to teens all the time. As you no doubt know, the excitement and energy of teens can be contagious and invigorating. Also, teens will have lots of fun, interesting, cool, exciting and possible ideas for you to work on with them. Listen to wh

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12. 30 Days of How-To #25: How to Jazz up Your Publicity

If you’re like us at my library, you’re fairly limited in the software you’re allowed to use (ahem, Microsoft Office suite), and your in-house publicity is made with Publisher. If you’re in the habit of making signs or flyers for your programs, check to see if you’ve gotten into the clipart-gradient background-text rut. If this isn’t you, please please please help your fellow librarian who fits this description. If you’re thinking, But what’s wrong with my clipart?, I beg of you, please keep reading.

Backgrounds

Flyers and signs should be eye-catching, especially when you’re competing for the short attention span of teens, and it all starts with your background. It shouldn’t be just any color, or a color at all. The background you choose can determine what images you use, as well as the type and color of your font. If you choose a plain background, you’d better have an image that pops, and your font color should be a high contrast. On the other hand, if your background is an image, use other pictures or clipart sparingly (if at all), and consider a “washout” effect, essentially increasing the brightness and lowering the contrast. You want the text to be readable from a distance, and an image background can obscure readability.

Images   

Think about cropping an image in a neat way to only use part of it. Instead of a floating ninja head, put that same head with the chin cropped off at the bottom of the flyer to make it look like it is looking over something. If you’re looking for something fresh, try searching through Google Images, Flickr, or other photo sites. Remember to keep copyright in mind, though, and look for images licensed through Creative Commons instead, which is often easier to use and understand.

Fonts

The last important element is the font. Even if your IT department protests every time you try to install something new, that doesn’t mean you can’t use special fonts. For a Halloween program, use a Friday the 13th-esque font or some other font that embodies your gruesome theme. Having a spa program for girls? Use a super girly font with a lot of flourishes. You can even try to match the font from a book cover (think Hunger Games). Here’s the trick: download the font, unzip it if required, and save the TrueType file to your desktop. Open the file, and like magic, the font becomes available when creating WordArt in Publisher. As long as the font file is open while your Publisher file is open, the font is available and will show up properly (Side note: even if you save the Publisher file, the font will revert back to a standard font if the downloaded font file is not open. To avoid this, save the file as a .jpg). Fonts can come from a number of sources, but my usual choice is dafont.com

The most important thing is don’t forget to have fun with this! What tricks have you learned along the way to keep your publicity from getting boring? Leave your answer in the comments.

 

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13. We can ALL be Movers & Shakers

Tuesday, Nov. 1st (ahem, tomorrow) is the deadline to submit your nomination for Library Journal’s Movers & Shakers list. That doesn’t leave you much time to nominate that person you met at ALA Annual whose efforts caught your attention. Or your co-worker who seems to be ahead of every trend. Or yourself! It may be that you don’t know anyone who fits the strict criteria. Oh, what are the criteria, you ask?

A M&S is a “leader in the library world” who is “innovative, creative, and making a difference”. Previous teen services-related winners have kick-started teen services in their branch, library system, and community. (One winner got gaming systems in all 20 branches in her library system!!) Others began a project on a small scale only to have it adopted by their surrounding community. Let me highlight a few previous winners so that you might be inspired to nominate someone or strive to be a contender for next year’s award.

1. I’ll start with a woman I have met on a few occasions. She spoke at a small workshop at my previous library, and at a few other, larger settings. Jamie Watson of Hartford County, Maryland is so high-energy, you cannot help but get a little excited when you hear her talk. Her humor and candidness is likely what attracts teens to her. She was recognized as a 2008 M&S because of her involvement with YALSA (Quick Picks Committee member), and because her blog was is syndicated by a Washington DC-area public TV station. *Traits to mimic: enthusiasm, blogging

2. One of 2010’s M&S winners was Monique Delatte, a librarian in Los Angeles, CA. This customer service oriented librarian has won grants for the La Puenta public library as well as the Rio Hondo College (where she is an adjunct professor) totaling over $57,000. Delatte serves a very impoverished community where low income and low education levels are common, so that money is more than needed. *Traits to emulate: grant-writing, customer service

3. Librarian Maureen Ambrosino took her role as Youth Services Consultant for Central Massachusetts Library System very seriously, and took the opportunity to teach her co-workers all about the benefits of working with and for teens. Maureen brought in trainers to teach staff members how to “work effectively with teens”, which resulted in a significant growth in the number of teen summer reading programs. *Traits to imitate: imparting knowledge on others, dedication

The efforts of previous M&S winners are noteworthy. They saw a need and they met it, usually with so much success that it garnered community- or state-wide attention. We can all strive to be Movers & Shakers. Even if Library Journal never recognizes our achievements, your teens, your coworkers, and your community will notice.

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14. Finding Time When You Don’t Have Any

I’m going to have to keep this brief today, which is fitting because today is all about time. When did you last say that you had too much time on your hands? If you’re like a lot of us, you don’t remember the last time you could just sit back and relax. There’s always something else that has to be done – another program to plan, more weeding to be done, desk hours, etc. You keep putting things aside to do later, but later never comes. If you already have a fail-proof method that keeps you scheduled and on task, I’m super jealous, and please share in the comments!

I, on the other hand, tend to be really disorganized, so at the beginning of this month when I started NaNoWriMo, I had no idea how I was going to manage that on top of everything else. I had to come up with something to do differently, or else I was never going to make it. So, here are a few tips for keeping your head above water:

1. Start using your calendar!
Whether it’s Outlook or Google or a planner that you keep in your desk, start putting every little thing you have scheduled or need to accomplish in there. Is there something that you constantly have to find time to do? Put it in your calendar and set a reminder. The key to this is using something that’s going to be in your face and hard to ignore.

2. Use your apps!
It can be an app on your phone – I use one that syncs with my Google calendar – or a site online. The folks over at Lifehacker suggest Zirrus, which allows you to prioritize your tasks in the form of a tag cloud. Using an app online or on your phone gives you the added advantage of taking your organization wherever you go, and if it syncs to your calendar, that’s even better.

3. Write it down!
Even with having your calendar and prioritizing your tasks, I’ve found that writing out what I have to do the next day makes it easier to best my arch nemesis: procrastination. Put it on sticky notes, real or virtual (I use Evernote because I can access my notes online or from my phone), and even if I don’t look at them again, what I have to do the next day is already in my mind.

That’s all I have time for today. I have 3,300 more words before I hit the 50,000 mark, so I have to get crackin’. Be sure to leave your own tips and tricks in the comments. This is Heather, signing off from my tablet on the go!

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15. 30 Days of Back to School: Transitioning from a Public Library to a School

In August, I left my job at the Darien (Ct) Library to become the Academic Technology Coordinator at Hamden Hall Country Day School. While I’d begun my library career as an independent school librarian (at Wilbraham & Monson Academy in western Massachusetts), I have never been in the classroom before.  Having now switched from a school to a public library and back again, I feel like I’m getting a pretty good sense of the overlaps between the two areas, as well as the significant differences. If you’re considering making the move to a school, here’s what I’ve learned in my few weeks on the job.

You’ve got a lot of names to remember. One thing that surprised me about working at a public library was that I didn’t really get to know the teens in the same way that I did as their school librarian. And already, I can see things swinging back in the other direction; when you see students every week, you do get to know them a bit more quickly, and perhaps even more deeply. I’d always assumed that working in a public library meant you could be more relaxed with your patrons–they can call you by your first name, you have more unstructured time with them, there aren’t teachers giving you dirty looks when you don’t shush the students (cough)–but in actuality, I found that I was more cautious with the teens, and they never opened up to me in the way that my students have. Now, I’m sure there are public librarians who will have had totally different experiences, so your mileage may vary. I will only say that as a teacher or a school librarian, you are a constant presence in your students’ lives, which can help build trust.

There’s a LOT to learn. If you are joining the ranks of the school librarians or becoming a teacher without any formal education or training, as I did, you are going to have to play a lot of catch-up. Not only are there new rules to follow, there are new resources, new politics, new challenges. And I have never worked at a public school, which I imagine is even more of a culture shock in terms of regulations and policies. In terms of school culture, I would recommend finding a mentor. Try to avoid putting your immediate supervisor in this role, though certainly that person should be a go-to resource and sounding board. A true mentor can help guide you through the uncharted territory of your new workplace and can listen to frustrations that you don’t necessarily want to run by your boss. Ask lots of questions: what is expected of me in this situation? What resources are available to me? What’s the best time to hit the caf? I noticed people wearing jeans even when the dress code says we can’t – what’s up with that? Schedule regular meetings with as many people as you can fit into your busy schedule: your boss, administrators, key teachers, the librarian (if you’re not that person). Ask for feedback.

And in terms of learning how to do your job, well, maybe that’s another lengthy post for another time, but in short: reach out. Use social networks to get human answers to your questions (as opposed to Google). I use Twitter constantly, both to ask questions of my network of friends and to follow professionals who post great ideas and resources. Follow the blogs

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16. 30 Days of Back to School

Everyone wants to go on a road trip!  Here is your chance to join YALSA’s LIS (Library and Information School) Road Trip!

Launching in 2011 this road trip will focus on the LIS’s around the country.  We want students and professors to host an event, a program or happy hour on each of the ALA accredited schools to help faculty and students be aware of what YALSA does.  We will contact the ALA Student Chapters as well to engage them in our road trip!  Look for future announcements on the blog and on a newly created wiki space.  The LIS Road Trip Task Force is looking for volunteers to promote YALSA and the values of membership to our future librarians!  The Task Force will be creating promotional materials, how to sign up and how to market your event.  Please contact Jerene Battisti, chair, if you have ideas or questions at jdbattisti@kcls.org.

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17. 30 Days of Back to School: LIS Road Trip

Everyone wants to go on a road trip!  Here is your chance to join YALSA’s LIS (Library and Information School) Road Trip!

Launching in 2011 this road trip will focus on the LIS’s around the country.  We want students and professors to host an event, a program or happy hour on each of the ALA accredited schools to help faculty and students be aware of what YALSA does.  We will contact the ALA Student Chapters as well to engage them in our road trip!  Look for future announcements on the blog and on a newly created wiki space.  The LIS Road Trip Task Force is looking for volunteers to promote YALSA and the values of membership to our future librarians!  The Task Force will be creating promotional materials, how to sign up and how to market your event.  Please contact Jerene Battisti, chair, if you have ideas or questions at jdbattisti@kcls.org.

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18. 30 Days of Back to School: The Playlist

Many of you, like me, have made a shift from one job to another this summer. Kudos to each of you who still managed to get their posts in during September. Me, I’m just now getting to my desk to write this. (I just now have a desk in my apt!!) During this transition, a few earworms have made their way in. I imagine others have found certain songs rolling around their brains this last month too. With Teen Read Week‘s theme being Books with Beat this year, and our blogmaster giving her students a weekly playlist, I thought it only fitting to put down some of the beats that have been in my head lately.

Here’s my playlist:

  1. Welcome to the Jungle - Guns ‘n Roses (this is pretty self explanatory, right?)
  2. Lost in the supermarket – The Clash (while I feel totally lost at times in this new school, I imagine the students feel this way sometimes in the library as well)
  3. Los Angeles, I’m yours – The Decemberists (sometimes we just have to surrender and give our new location everything we’ve got)
  4. Swagga like us – Kanye West, Jay-Z, T.I., Lil Wayne, MIA (I’d like to believe that it’s always me with the swagga, but usually it’s the students)
  5. Maps – Yeah Yeah Yeahs (a healthy dose of narcissism when no one familiar is around to give it to you)
  6. Wannabe – Spice Girls (how many times do you ask “what you do really really want” only to get a strange/indecipherable answer?)
  7. Bad romance – Lady Gaga (currently the queen of the earworm if its not one Gaga song in my head, it’s another)
  8. Furr – Blitzen Trapper (this song is totally makes me want to read books with werewolves in them)
  9. So Whatcha Want? – Beastie Boys (“tell me where’d you get your information from hun,” –clearly these boys know how to evaluate their sources)
  10. L.E.S. Artistes – Santogold (I’m in a new state with a new job, and that brings anxiety.  Santogold makes me feel a bit better about all this transition.)
  11. Ghost of corporate futureRegina Spektor (great advice when feeling overwhelmed)
  12. <

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19. Serving on the Mentoring Program Task Force

Earlier this summer, Melissa Rabey reflected on her experience so far on the Printz Committee. While I think a number of us one day aspire to serve on a selection committee, we may not be ready to make that kind of commitment yet, or we might feel like we don’t have the experience within YALSA to do so–but there are other ways to begin your involvement within YALSA. For new members especially, a task force can be a good way to try out professional service, so I thought I’d talk about my experience on the YALSA Mentoring Program Task Force.

The call for task force members went out a few days before I graduated. I’d been looking for avenues for getting more involved in YALSA, and a task force seemed like a manageable way to start. I’d applied for the mentoring program itself, too, so I made sure to mention that in my task force application. When I was asked to join the task force, I was told I just needed to recuse myself when my own application came up, but that I could still evaluate the other applications and help match proteges and mentors (and it turned out that one of the other members of the task force was an applicant to be a mentor!). Soon after the mentoring program application deadline passed, the chair of the task force emailed all of the members asking us to introduce ourselves to one another, and we began our work.

One thing that makes a task force a good place to start for people who are looking for their first way to get involved with YALSA is that many of them conduct their business entirely virtually. We did all of our work by exchanging emails and chatting via Skype, which was a great way for a group of people across the country with varying schedules to be able to collaborate. Of course, there are pitfalls in communication done primarily by email, but it opens task force work to people who can’t afford to travel and lets members work asynchronously.

Since task forces have a specific project to carry out, task force work is also usually done over a shorter timeline than a selection or process committee. We began our Mentoring Program Task Force work in early July and submitted our final recommendations at the end of August. If you’re anxious about how to get started with your YALSA involvement, a few months is a great trial period to see how you like it.

Joining a task force–or serving in any capacity with YALSA–is also a fun way to get to know your fellow YALSA members. Especially if you’re a new member, I think that trying to jump into a huge crowd of people you don’t know to make connections and friends can be intimidating. A task force is a good way to narrow that crowd to a friendly few and to start to put personalities and faces to the names you may have seen on listservs. While I’m not going to be able to make it to Midwinter this year since I’m going to the YA Lit Symposium in November, I’m hoping I’ll be able to meet up with some of the other task force members at future conferences.

I was a little nervous heading into my first professional involvement experience, but I had fun and I’m proud of the work we d

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20. Roving Versus Desk Reference

I recently moved from the Teen Services Librarian position at Red Deer Public Library to the teen job at the downtown branch of Edmonton Public Library, and while the two cities are only 1.5 hours from each other, they feel a universe apart to me. The teen area at the downtown branch has been without a librarian for the past few months (and in the 2 years before that, there was much turnover in the position). The space has been heavily used by street/at-risk/ inner city youth roughly aged 15-25, making younger teens and tweens feel intimidated to use the area to find library materials, let alone spend time there hanging out.

There was previously a reference desk near the teen area that was closed down (due to staffing constraints, but also because EPL made the move to roving/roaming reference). I am a relatively young librarian but old school in the sense that I generally find a stationary reference desk to be more ideal than roving reference, especially in the teen area. It has been my experience that unless all the staff members are equally committed to working with and engaging teens, they may as well not rove in the first place. That being said, roving has become the trend of public service at EPL, so I may just have to adapt to that.

What has been the experience at your libraries – do reference desks or roving prove more effective, or a combination of the two? It is my goal to engage with the older and inner city youth so they know that they are still welcome, but must abide by the rules like all of the other library patrons. I’d also like to make the space more welcoming to the younger teens, who currently use the children’s library. I am open to any thoughts or suggestions on this topic!

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21. Learning as I go: building a foundation for teen services
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By: Beth, on 1/24/2011
Blog: YALSA - Young Adult Library Services Association (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags:  New Librarians, Add a tag

I’m about four months in to my first professional position out of grad school. I was very lucky to land a YA position just a few months after graduating, and I really like my library, my coworkers, and the community that supports the library. But as a new librarian, I’m finding that even though I have my MLS, I still have a lot of learning to do in providing a strong teen services program.


I’m not just a new librarian: I’m also in a newly created position. Until I started, our head of collection development was selecting all of the teen materials and other staff members would occasionally step up to do a teen program, but there hadn’t been a coordinated, sustained effort to serve teens. During all of my coursework, I’d never considered the possibility that I wouldn’t just be stepping into someone else’s shoes and inheriting an already running program, but I was excited to accept that challenge. Building my own program has been thrilling, especially since I’ve been given a lot of freedom to try things, but it’s also been kind of terrifying.

There are some things that have been going really well. I embarked on a massive weeding project and made the case for interfiling the paperback and hardcover teen fiction, which has been well-received by both patrons and staff members. I’ve been cranking out book lists and series shelf labels and other readers’ advisory tools. I lobbied for a small desk to be set up in the teen area (which is really far away from the reference desk) and rearranged the furniture and shelving to make it feel more like a dedicated space. I’m proud of all of this and I think that it has greatly improved what we’re offering our teens.

But working on all of those projects took time, and it all seemed really important, and we never have enough time for everything we want–so what I didn’t spend as much time doing was sitting at that new desk getting to know my patrons. Sure, I did a survey within my first couple weeks to see what kinds of programs teens at the library would be interested in and what their pop culture interests were. And when I could, I was doing on-desk time and was always so thrilled when I had the chance to do readers’ advisory (I’m quickly learning it’s my favorite part of my job). It just felt like I needed to do those things before I could properly serve my patrons–except that that “must do” list kept getting longer.

So when I launched our new YA programming schedule and no one came to my events, I was heartbroken. I’d spent so much time brainstorming, collecting cool ideas, planning, justifying with the Developmental Assets, creating posters and fliers, setting events up–and then just cleaning up after a couple sad hours in a room by myself. It hasn’t been a complete disaster: while no one ever came to my drop-in crafts during after-school hours, the drop-in gaming on a different day is drawing a small but regular crowd. And my movie nights have been mostly misses, but the screening of Harry Potter 6 the week before the seventh movie came out was a hit. And I have a very tiny, tentative Teen Advisory Board that may or may not survive but at least exists for now! But every time I planned or set up for a program, I was worrying and wondering if anyone would come.

For the new year, I took a step back and sat down to evaluate how thin

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22. GSLIS students support each other on Twitter with #prakchat
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By: Beth, on 3/15/2011
Blog: YALSA - Young Adult Library Services Association (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags:  New Librarians, Technology, #prakchat, school library teacher, Simmons College, Twitter, Add a tag

I had the opportunity to chat with a group of School Library Teacher students from Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science on Twitter recently.  These students, from various parts of Massachusetts, are all working on practicum experiences in school libraries.  They meet up once a week on Twitter to support each other, compare notes,  puzzle out questions of teaching in libraries,  and help each other accurately document their  experiences in their required binder.  They use the hashtag #prakchat, for practicum chat, when they have these tweetups, as well as throughout the week to share their trials and triumphs on the front lines of their school libraries.

I was impressed by their initiative in using Twitter and the way they articulated its impact on their library school experiences.  The support of colleagues is so important in library school and in the profession in general. Professional Learning Networks need not rely on proximity. A simple agreement about how to communicate can go a long way.  Check out the transcripts from our two part conversation.

Part One

ErinCerulean Erin Daly
As I understand it the folks using the #prakchat hashtag are Simmons students. Are you all in Boston or are there some GSLIS West folks?

alidahanson Alida Hanson
@ErinCerulean we have one GSLIS west person #prakchat

ErinCerulean Erin Daly
@alidahanson Yay GSLIS West, that’s where I went!

alidahanson Alida Hanson
@ErinCerulean i can tell you how #prakchat started cuz I did it

alidahanson Alida Hanson
@ErinCerulean the twitter chat works for us because it’s impossible for us to get together with our busy schedules #prakchat

jendimmick Jennifer Dimmick
@alidahanson I agree! I <3 reading the stream the day after the chat time; don’t feel so left out. So helpful w/ideas & support.#prakchat

ErinCerulean Erin Daly
@alidahanson cool, you can tell me about it now and then I’ll come back and talk w/people at regular #prakchat time on Tuesday also.

alidahanson Alida Hanson
@ErinCerulean amanda bock wanted to put together a discussion group and asked for suggestions. #prakchat

alidahanson Alida Hanson
@

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23. I got the spring break blues
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By: Beth, on 4/26/2011
Blog: YALSA - Young Adult Library Services Association (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags:  New Librarians, spring break, teen attendance, Add a tag



Last week was spring break, which means that this week, teens are dragging themselves back to school and back into their normal lives. I know a lot of them thought their break was much too short–but for me, it was much too long: there was absolutely no one at the library last week and I was lonely!

I should have known this was coming since the public schools also get a week off in February and the library was dead during that week (my library serves a very family-based area, so when the kids have vacation, everyone has vacation), but I’d also been attributing some of the February quiet to the weather being especially crummy and the families who were home wanting to stay out of the snow and ice and ick. I was hoping that spring break would be different.

But it wasn’t, really. We’re very firmly an after-school destination. The good side of that is that kids come to the library just to hang out, and in getting to know the regulars, I’ve cultivated a core group of kids that attend nearly every program I put on. But the downside is that if there is no school, we’re not a destination–and I think that above all else is the primary thing I want to change in the next couple of years. I want kids to come to the library not just because it’s within walking distance of school and they need somewhere to be until their parents get home from work. I want the library to be a place they want to go because there’s something specific here for them that they want to do or use or experience. I think part of it is the battle all of us fight to successfully advertise ourselves, but a big part of it is that our programs and services for teens are still really new.

I have some plans for how to do that (though I’d love more ideas if you have them!), but for now, I’m just going to revel in actually having my patrons back in my library after a long and lonely week! I was able to knock out a lot of planning and paperwork while they were gone, but having to do all of that boring stuff and go to meetings without the relief of being able to talk about Minecraft, joke around with my TAB kids, or do any readers’ advisory at all left me feeling out of sorts and made me realize that I am definitely in this profession for the kids, not for the library itself.

I’m really into the goals and ideals of our profession and I want to promote all of the great things libraries do that people might not know about and to make information more accessible and understandable to people. I like YA lit a lot and I’m interested in raising its reputation outside the YA world. But what really matters to me is what I can do to make my teens’ lives–both right now and in the future–more awesome.

I want to help them find reading material that is engaging to them. I want to help them totally nerd out in their interests and hobbies. I want them to be able to have fun, to have opportunities to grow as people, and to feel valued in our community. I want to be their advocates within the library and to everyone else in the town. As overly earnest as it sounds, I want to use the library as a force for good in their lives.

I was kind of surprised by how bummed a week without my patrons made me feel, but it’s shown me that they’re definitely what gives my job meaning. I like that I know that about myself now, and I’m really looking forward to building our teen services and getting the word out about what we do.

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24. Summer Reading School Visits: Tips and Tricks
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By: Beth, on 5/26/2011
Blog: YALSA - Young Adult Library Services Association (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags:  New Librarians, Teen Services, Add a tag



Ah, summer and the teen summer reading program. It’s one of my favorite times in the library. I love that the library provides a safe place for teens to spend some of their summer hours—a place where they can read, use the computers, hang out, and  go to fun programs. Over the past few weeks, I’ve found that as much as I love the summer reading program, preparing for and promoting it can be just as fun. School visits are the best!

In my district, school visits are usually an all day event, and for the teen summer reading program we normally only visit middle schools. We set up in the school media center and classes come in and visit us throughout the day. It’s a very fun, but very long, day. The time allotted to us varies by school, but is usually about 30-50 minutes per group of kids. We spend the first half of the visit talking about the summer reading program (dates, prizes, programs over the summer, etc.) and the second half booktalking and giving the teens ideas for books to read.

This was my first year doing school visits as a librarian for my district. I’ve been having a blast meeting with teens, telling them about the summer reading program, and booktalking some great books. I have some really great colleagues and I’ve learned a ton while doing school visits this year, so I thought I’d share some tips and tricks to help other new librarians.

  1. Bring candy! Bribery works, and handing out candy for participation gets the teens more involved in, and excited about, your presentation. One of my colleagues gives a piece of candy to every teen who has their library card on them and can show it to us, which is a lot of fun. We also give out candy when we booktalk books—if a teen requests that we talk about a book, they get a piece of candy.
  2. Nonfiction, nonfiction, nonfiction. I personally love novels, but have found that bringing nonfiction is a great way to involve more reluctant readers. I brought Bat Boy Lives! and a book on Phineas Gage this year and both generated a lot of interest. A coworker brought Elizabeth Berkley’s new advice book, Ask Elizabeth, which was also very popular.
  3. Compelling covers are key. There are a few books that I love but don’t have the best covers. I’ve learned to just leave those at home. They never get asked about, and I get sad that I don’t get to share a favorite book with everyone.
  4. Bring more books than you think you’ll need. I’ve found that certain books get asked about over and over again, and I need a break from booktalking them. I will switch them out for other books periodically throughout the day.
  5. Different formats are a good thing. We try to bring a wide variety of formats—graphic novels, nonfiction, audio books, etc.—to have a book that everyone could be interested in. I’ve found with audio books, the trick is to also bring the physical book as well. Audio book covers aren’t always as easy to read or see, and depending on your vendor sometimes aren’t very interesting, so it’s nice to display the actual book on top of the audio book. Then when someone asks about it, I make sure to mention that I listened to the book and loved the audio version. If your library has Playaways, that’s also a great option to share with teens who may have never heard of them before.
  6. Joke around and don’t be afraid of being a geek. When we asked our Teen Advisory Board what they wa

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25. YALSA 101 @ Annual 2011
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By: Beth, on 6/14/2011
Blog: YALSA - Young Adult Library Services Association (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags:  Conference, New Librarians, News, YALSA Info., Add a tag



Are you going to Annual next week? If you’re a new member to YALSA, the amount of programming and opportunities within the organization can seem overwhelming. Or maybe you’ve been a YALSA member for years, but want to get more involved! Either way, a great way to learn more about YALSA and how to get involved is to attend the YALSA 101 session on Friday, June 24th in New Orleans!

YALSA 101 is a mixer style event where seasoned YALSA members will be seated at tables available to talk about various YALSA events and initiatives. Conference attendees can wander and visit the tables they are most interested in learning more about! This is a great chance to address specific questions, issues and to provide a networking/mentoring opportunity for all involved.

YALSA 101 will take place Friday the 24th from 3 to 4p.m., just before the Opening General Session. All members are encouraged to attend and to contribute!

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