Friday, January 18, 2013

After a long week, we all need some pizza

It has been a tough week for me, professionally.   I'll skip the details, but you know how a workplace that's mostly women can be super stereotypical sometimes?  Essentially that.

This morning I wasn't looking forward to going to work, even though I had a pretty pleasant day lined up.  I went in a couple of hours late (the teenbrarian always has comp time) and spent the afternoon doing a pretty harsh weed at our smallest branch.  At 4 it was time for my Pizza and Paperbacks book club.

I do this program at both of our branches now, but it started when I was the FT youth librarian at the South branch, where I was today.  It is an idea stolen from an existing youth program---a book club where teens  get a NEW copy of a book TO KEEP so long as they keep showing up on the third Friday of the month to discuss it.  I got a grant to cover the expense of the books and pizza for each meeting for the first few years, this year it's funded by the FotL.  I wasn't sure how it would go over at first, but it turned out that the teens in that area really want exactly this sort of program.  A great group of teens started coming pretty regularly and I have a core group of about 15 or so.  They are a rowdy and diverse group, and we often run over the hour I'd planned by half an hour or more.  A couple of boys in the group liked it so much that they kept coming for the first few months of their first year of college. 

The key thing here is to make it as unlike school as possible.   I go in the room with nothing more than some scrap paper to write down books, websites, and other things that they mention being into.  No list of discussion questions or anything like that.  I start with, "so, what did you think?" and we go from there.  At the first meeting, someone asked if I was going to be picking books from "some list of books teenagers are supposed to read".  My answer was something along the lines of "no way, I'm totally just making you read the books I like!" and that's how it's gone.  We quickly made it through my favorites, and their favorites, and a few books that we went into blindly that none of us had read yet but I'd heard were good.  They almost always all actually read the book, and they aren't afraid to tell me if they hate it.  The best months are always the ones where some LOVED it and some HATED it.  We're all in agreement about one book though: Twilight SUCKED.

Today though,  I just wasn't feeling it.  I was tired and looking forward to the weekend and not in the mood for teenagers.  And then they started to arrive, and the rest of the week lifted off of me and I remembered that no matter what is going on behind the scenes at the library, THIS is what matters.  They loved the book this month, they wanted to tell me about their exams and their excitement about having a half day today, they were excited I got BREADSTICKS with the pizza.  I'm entering year four of this book club, and many of the people who came to the first meeting are still coming.

And now I'm home, ready to unwind from the week with a cup of tea and my cat.  I'm going into it from a place of happiness and satisfaction though, instead of one of exhaustion and grump.

This is an expensive program, to be sure, but for the first three years I was lucky enough to get a grant from Walmart which pretty much completely covered it.  If you haven't tried to get a grant from them before, I suggest you do!  The process has gotten much easier, it is now completely online.  This year they turned me down, but I think it's probably just because I'd already gotten it 3 years in a row.  I will try again next year!

Off the top of my head, for those who may be interested, here are some of the books we have read over the past several years:

Divergent (that was the one we discussed today!)
The Hunger Games
The Monstrumologist
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian
Paper Towns
An Abundance of Katherines
Will Grayson Will Grayson
Looking for Alaska
The Glassmaker's Daughter (we managed an author visit for this one!)
Stuck in Neutral (with phone visit with Terry Trueman!)
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
The Merchant of Death
The Mysterious Benedict Society
This Dark Endeavor
Ender's Game
City of Bones
Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life
Coraline (the graphic novel)
Hate List
If I Stay


  1. Since it is an expensive program, when you were planning for the program and writing the grant, did you just decide on a number of teens who would be allowed to join and when it was full it was full?

    1. Pretty much. I buy about 15 copies of the book each month (10 at the branch that has a smaller group), and when they're gone they're gone! Since we always have a few no-shows, I encourage people to come anyway--they can get their own copy either by checking out a library copy or buying their own, or they can come without having read it. I give copies of the next book to those who have attended the meeting, and then leftovers go out to the ref. desk for anyone who drops by to sign up.