Archive for April, 2010

“Hi–I have to do 15 community service hours by the 23rd and I can only come in on Sunday afternoons.  Can I volunteer at the library?”  [Note: it’s the 15th…]

Anyone gotten that call before?  I actually have.  🙂

In all seriousness though, providing teens with enough volunteer opportunties to fufill the hours they need for graduation, for National Honor Society, for Girl Scouts…it’s a very real challenge for libraries.  We’re a convenient place to volunteer because we’re open a lot of hours and lots of the kids who need hours are the bookish type that figure this would be just the place.  Sadly though, my teen department is small (as I’m sure yours is).  We can accommodate a lot of volunteers and I’m looking for ways to accommodate more, but we can’t always help them all.  That’s why yesterday I hosted my first Teen Volunteer Fair.  

This program was so cheap and really pretty easy to organize.  I recommend it to everyone!  My assistant collected a list of local organizations that accept teen volunteers by spending some of her on-desk time doing web research.  Depending on the contact info she found, I emailed them or sent them a letter by mail.  I had 7 organizations respond with a “yes.”  I called them to confim the week before.  I spent $8 on cookies and used lemonade mix and paper products that I had in my stash.  We had 32 teens come in to visit tables throughout the 2 hour fair. 

The participants asked if I would do a similar program in the early part of the next school year so that kids with requirements can come at the beginning of the school year.  I definitely want to do the program again.  So what would I change for next time?  I would only schedule the fair for an hour and a half as the last half hour was SLOW.  I would send a press release to our local paper (this time I just did flyers and called the schools to get on the announcements).  I would also see if I could get in touch with the local teachers in charge of groups like NHS and Key Club.

Some days, I think we as youth services librarians can go home feeling more like cruise directors than a librarians.  It’s all we can do just to keep the kids/teens hanging around the library entertained, let alone think about pointing them toward good books and useful resources.  But yesterday, bringing all those community resources together in one room to meet a need I saw in my patron group…yesterday I felt like a librarian.  🙂


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Did you know that The Invention of Hugo Cabret i being adapted into a film? Did you further know that it is set to be directed by Martin Scorsese? And it is going to be shot in 3D? Thoughts?

I am tad too busy and/or lazy to go through this right now, but you should check the list of SLJ’s Top 100 Children’s Books and grade yourself. I think I’m going to get a low B, but I’ll keep you updated.There is also a quick look at some titles that didn’t make the list here.

Celebration of National Poetry Month continues with the schedule posted at KidLitosphere Central.

Boxcar Children Vampires. Yes!

And in a somewhat off topic addition, I can’t wait to see this movie.

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National Library Week

Art Brodsky has a really interesting article on Huffington Post. I feel rather fortunate to be in a community that values its library but I know things will be tighter next year.

To celebrate National Library Week at our library, we held a bookmark contest. Kids age 3-18 were asked to draw what their library means to them in a bookmark template. Then patrons were asked to vote on their favorites in five different age categories with the winners being announced today.

This is pretty much all that we’re doing for National Library Week. What is your library doing?

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100 top YA books

Persnickety Snark is putting together a list of the top 100 YA books, as chosen by those who vote. So make your voice heard! Check it out here.

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After I politely asked a young boy on the computer in our children’s department to turn off a music video that was inappropriate for said department, he innocently asked me “What’s a g-spot anyway?”

In case you’re wondering, yes, the entire world stopped for a moment as I thought “Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”

I’m sort of embarrassed by the following response but it was the best answer I could come up with on the spot: “You know, I can’t really answer that in general but maybe we can find you a few age appropriate books about sexual health that may help.”

Egads, I have no idea if that was the right thing to say or not. I’m not even sure if he knew it was a sexual term, but I didn’t think “reproductive health” would have even made sense. I also realized that as a sub, I need to find out what my library’s policy or preference when it comes to dealing with these types of questions in the children’s department. I wouldn’t have had a problem with the question if we were in the teen section but considering there were several 3 and 5 year olds around, not to mention several mothers, it made things slightly problematic.Fortunately, by the time I answered the kid was already disinterested and replied with a very helpful, “Nah, I don’t care that much anyway.” (I could make several a snarky comments here but I will resist.)

What have been some of the more awkward/unexpected questions you’ve been asked and how did you handle them?

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Out and about…

On one of the many listservs that I subscribe to, I came across this article from the New York Times about problem parents in YA lit. It’s something that came up when I was talking to a coworker a few months ago, she asked why all of the parents in YA lit seem to absent from their kids’ lives. It was something I pondered but wasn’t sure how to answer. Then this morning something was mentioned in a conference session I attended (I’m currently at the state library conference) and it made me realize one possibility for absent parents in YA books — many kids are starting to become independent from their parents, they want to rebel against their parents but also conform in their own social groups. It’s just a theory, of course.

On a completely different topic, I’m sure the book bullying on Amazon and book ratings is oldish news to some of you but I keep noticing it more and more. Amazon reviews used to be somewhat reliable but this sort of bullying has really gotten out of hand. When I have a teen or parent ask about a particular book that I can’t find a review for in my usual sources, I’ve turned to Amazon for a quick review. With this bullying it makes it quite difficult to wade through all of the negative reviews about shipping and gripes about a book not being on the Kindle to figure out what gives the book some value.

I’ll write all about my experience at the state (Kansas) library conference later. I’ve come away with a lot of great ideas and several things that I can’t wait to try at our library. I think I’m most excited about the prospects for making our teen volunteer program more than just sitting at the summer reading prize table.

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My budget for teen books this year includes a grant that has enabled me to spend almost double what has been spent on teen books in the past.  A blessing and a curse, my friends!  I didn’t really realize quite how much money I had, so I’ve been on a shopping spree the last few weeks hoping to get everything invoiced before the end of the fiscal year.  I am admittedly (and shockingly!) getting a little tired of book buying.  I know…that’s crazy talk.  Talk to me on a year I don’t have a grant and I promise I’ll take that statement back!  🙂

So how am I spending all this money, you might ask?  Well, of course I’m buying lots more copies of every Ellen Hopkins book on the market and 10 copies of The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, but I’m also buying nonfiction, because in the wise words of Marc Aronson, Nonfiction Matters.

My library has not previously collected nonfiction for teens.  There is some teen appropriate literature intermingled in both the children’s and adult sections (as is the case in many libraries) but I think it’s hard for teens to find stuff that is appropriate for their interest level and ability.  Plus, I think by not collecting nonfiction for teens, we (however unintentionally) put a bit of a negative value nonfiction as leisure reading, which in turn alienates all the readers out there who enjoy reading the “real stuff.”

I guess you can tell I think it’s important to give teens nonfiction options and I figured there was no better time to try out this experiment than when I have an extra chunk of change sitting around.  So, let’s talk about what’s been easy and not-so-easy about this project…

What’s been good is that the way the YA collection policy at my library reads, I can buy pretty much whatever I want.  The policy says that the YA collection is a “browsing” (read: small) collection, so I’m able to collect just what is high interest or what might be super useful for homework.  Right now I’m not overly worried about balance…just trying to get some stuff in and see what moves so I know what else to buy.  I’ll worry about balance and fleshing things out after all the books get in the building and I see what the teens are responding to.

What’s been not-so-easy?  Figuring out what to buy.

It’s been a little bit challenging to build this collection from scratch.  Obviously I looked at the BBYA lists for the last few years, as well as this year’s YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction.  I also pulled all the back issues of VOYA and SLJ since I got hired a year ago and ordered what I would have ordered if I had been buying nonfiction.   My library also has a copy of A Core Collection for Young Adults and I hoped this would be helpful.  Sadly, since the most recent edition is from 2003, it hasn’t been.  Most of the nonfiction listed has publication dates pre-1999.  Needless to say, it’s a little outdated.  I really hope there is a new edition in the works.  Today my manager recommended that I take a look at the catalogs of other libraries who are awesome at teen services (and around our size) and see what they’re collecting.  So, that’s my next stop.

Any other ideas out there??  Anyone got any general thoughts you want to share about the awesomeness (or non-awesomeness) of nonfiction collecting for teens?  Think it’s a great idea?  Think it sucks?  Tell me all about it!  🙂

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