Friday, February 22, 2013


It's Trivia night!  Last summer I had my first pub-style trivia night at the library and it was super fun--more fun than even the teens who showed up had anticipated.  This newsletter cycle I scheduled 4 different trivia nights--one at each building for teens as well as one for Young Adults (18-29).

Tonight I'll be at our North Branch, and I'm pretty excited about who has signed up.  Many of the teens who normally hang out at Main and South are signed up!  That's definitely a sign of a good program.  Another good sign is when you see teens you've never seen before.  Hopefully that happens, too!  It's snowing pretty hard here this morning though, I hope that it stops and the roads clear up so that everyone can make it.

I assume none of my teens know about this blog, so I'm going to post the questions I wrote here.  There is also a round where I show a famous painting and ask either who painted it or what it's called, and one where I show pictures of famous people and ask the teens to identify them.  Last time I used Kevin Bacon, Jenna Marbles, and our library director for that round.  They didn't know Kevin Bacon or the director, but they knew Jenna Marbles!  This time I chose Hilary Clinton, Psy, and Walt Disney.

Here are the questions! How many can you get right?

1)Which president was the first to be sworn in on live TV? He was the 33rd president.
2) Which president was the first to have a pet cat in the white house?
3)Who was the FIRST  first lady had both a husband and a son serve as president?
Famous African Americans:
1) This famous man developed 325 different products from peanuts.
2)This woman developed beauty products for African American women, eventually employing as many as 5000.
3) This man was the first African American supreme court justice:
Animal Nicknames:
1)What marine mammal is known as the “Sea Cow”
2)What kind of whale is known as the “Killer Whale”?
3) What is one of the mountain lion's multiple other names?
Vintage TV:
1)Name the three grown men who share a house in the show “Full House”
2)It was recently announced that this 90s show will soon be getting a re-boot revolving around the teenaged daughter of two of the main characters of the original show. What was the original show?
3)Name the show that centers around the patriarch of the Huxtable family.
Pop Culture:
1)How many members are in the band One Direction?
2)What is the first name of the butler in the anime/manga Black Butler?
3) What song is currently #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 list?
1)According to the recently celebrated Chinese New year, we have just entered the year of the what?
2)Name the Egyptian sun god
3) Who is the Norse god of Thunder?
1)Everyone knows J.K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter books.  What does the J stand for?
2) Everyone knows J.R.R. Tolkien wrote the Lord of the Rings books.  What does the J stand for?
3) Everyone knows Lemony Snicket wrote The Series of Unfortunate Events.  But that’s just a pen name.  What is the author’s REAL name?
1) Who said, "It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt"
2)What French Queen allegedly said “Let them eat cake”
3) “Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads” comes from what movie?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Summertime and the livin' is FRANTIC AS HELL

Summer planning is starting hardcore this week.  I have a Teen Advisory Council meeting tomorrow night, and it's our last before I have to have the newsletter articles DONE.  That means it's all happening now. There's a lot getting in my way this year--uncertainty about whether I'll have an intern this summer, hatred of the theme, the suspicion that I have MONO and that's why I'm so tired.  And the biggest hurdle for me mentally--wondering how the heck I'm going to top last year.

Though I am the only YA librarian for three buildings, I'm lucky enough to have the funding for a paid intern to help me out for about 10 hours a week.  My previous intern has graduated and left the country, leaving some big shoes to fill.  The teens really related to him, and they miss him dearly, so any incoming intern is going to have to overcome some hurdles in bonding with the teens.  We posted the position several months ago, but I wasn't thrilled with the candidates.  They were all nice, but none of them had real enthusiasm for working with teens, and that's important for this sort of job.  Overall I came out of the interviews feeling like I'd have to put in more than I'd get out of the potential interns--a situation that just won't work here.  I need help, REAL HELP. I understand that a library student will have to learn everything, but the hope is that eventually they will be able to carry some real weight around here.  The most promising candidate already had a full time job that would not have allowed her to be here when I'd need her most.  We decided to postpone hiring until the Winter/Spring semester starts, but we haven't had any replies from qualified students.  No intern will mean fewer programs and fewer BIG programs, which will be disappointing both to me and to the community.

I'm making the bold decision this year to completely ignore the collaborative theme.  Every year I MOSTLY ignore it, but still use the name and some of the bad art. This year I'm not using any of it.  The teen theme always seems very slapped together last minute based on a loose tie to the children's theme.  My teens STILL make fun of past themes (Metamorphosis in particular), and so this year my theme is SUMMER READING.  Wild, I know.

 I'm a loner Dotie, a rebel.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Shopping with other people's money

Buying books used to be my favorite part of the job, but I admit that it's become a little overwhelming.  It seems like every year there's more to choose from, but my budget certainly isn't getting any larger.  I purchase the YA books for all of our three buildings--I took on the third building in December--so I do my best to stretch the budgets as far as I can by not duplicating much between buildings.  Having to put things on hold is a drag, but for now I think it's important to have as many TOTAL TITLES available as possible.  Obviously there are some books we'll need to have a duplicates of-- we've got 4 copies of Divergent and Insurgent and something like 23 copies of The Hunger Games.

Because my budget is so limited I have to pass up on a lot of books that I'd like to give a chance.  It's also extra disappointing when I give a book a shot and it doesn't do well.  I run reports and talk to teens and try to figure out what will do best at each building, but it's not a perfect science.  There are some things I know to avoid--historical fiction doesn't do well in any of my buildings (authors, take note).  I buy a few here and there, because I know the local schools still do genre specific assignments, but that's the only time they get read. For the most part I just steer the teens towards the shelf of Ann Rinaldi books, which still do okay compared to other historical fiction.

Sometimes when I'm weeding in the teen areas, I notice that the alphabet leans heavily toward the first half.  You can almost tell, alphabetically, when I get tired of reading VOYA.  Today I'm tackling the February issue backwards, hopefully I'll catch a few good ones that I would have missed before. 

The top books from our"New" teen fiction collection right now:
Catching Fire (still "new" because I haven't SEEN the books to take them off)
Defiance (Redwine)
Shadows (Bick)
Underworld (Cabot)
Until I Die (Plum)
My Life Next Door (Fitzpatrick)
Rapture (Kate)
Hemlock (Peacock)
UnWholly (Shusterman)
Ultimate Comics the Ultimates V. 1 (Hickman)
The Dark Angel Saga 2 (Remender)

We haven't had it very long yet, but I'm glad to see that Rookie Yearbook 1 is doing well, too. It's gone out twice already and it's been available less than a month.  (The books on the list have gone out at least 5 times in the last 3 months, and the Manga collection is never "new" or else the list would have been exclusively Manga!)

If you work with teens, I'd love to know what's popular at your library right now

Monday, February 11, 2013

A gash, a rash, and purple bumps.

Last week had some flops and successes.  The flops were all due to injury or illness--Swing Dancing was cancelled because one instructor was out of town and the other managed to gash/burn his leg with some sort of saw (I have learned not to ask too many questions when it comes to him!).  I was out sick Thursday and Friday--D&D happened Thursday without me, but Friday's Anime Club did not.

Still, not a wasted week.  The teens have come up with their own crazy club, the Extremely Great Club for Geeks.  They created it on their own but I made it an official library program so that I can do my best to find them space to meet so that they don't cause the rest of the librarians and library patrons too much stress.  They are great kids, but when  you've got more than 3 or 4 teens together things tend to get noisy, and there were 20 or so here for the meeting.

I happened to have another program going on on Wednesday night, so I roped them into participating.  One of our youth librarians organized having the library make valentines for patients at a local hospital.  Each branch had a kid's program to make them, and I had a teen program at the main library.  Only about 3 people showed up specifically to make valentines, but when I combined them with the 20 already there it ended up being quite a party.  Two tables full of teenage boys studiously making valentines is maybe one of the cutest things I've ever seen.  I should have taken photos of some of them, but they get nervous when the camera is out!

I hope the Extremely Great Club for Geeks keeps going.  Our Anime Club hasn't been doing so well, I think because of the mix of younger teens and older teens. This summer I'm going to try splitting them up for some programs and seeing how that goes--probably 6th, 7th, and 8th grades together, and high school together.  I don't blame the older teens for not wanting to hang around with the sixth graders, but it's going to make a lot of extra work for me.  Oh well, being extremely busy is one of the joys of teenbrarianship!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Winter Reading

Winter Reading started yesterday!  The system I work for has always done Winter Reading for kids, and last year I decided that teens should do it too.  This program doesn't get nearly the participation that Summer Reading does, and that's fine.  It's a chance to have some fun and give out some prizes.  I've found that teens prefer a chance at a super awesome prize to definitely getting some small crappy thing, so Winter Reading gives them a chance at one of 4 really awesome prizes.  Last year they got an entry into whichever drawing they chose for each hour they read.  This year I'm trying out a BINGO sheet at the urging of my Teen Advisory Council.  I tried to make it easy and fun and a little weird.  There are 3 different sheets at the moment, but I might make one or two more as the program goes on (they've got until the end of March).  They get one drawing entry for each BINGO they get, and they can enter as many times as they want.  I tried to make sure the sheets had a few squares that encouraged them to poke around the website and facebook page, talk to random librarians, email me, and come to programs.  Here's the front and back of one of the sheets:

Other sheets encourage emailing me the best joke you know, reading a book from a list of my favorites, reading in public, and other random things.  I gave them out to the teens at book club yesterday, and they thought they were funny. Mission accomplished!

I made three great prize bundles based on specific themes that I know my teens are into, and also gave a CASH option for the teens who aren't as nerdy/awesome as the ones I interact with most often.  Here's the prize poster:

I can't wait to see which one is the most popular.  Last year it was The Hunger Games themed prize by a landslide,  but my teens have informed me that they are way over it, so I skipped it this time.  I was a little bummed I couldn't get a signed copy of TFiOS, but there's no way I'm giving mine up! (It's signed AND hanklerfished!)

I am extremely lucky in my funding (thanks, FotL!), but this could easily be adapted for a smaller budget.  Teens will do anything for candy or cash. 
Another week of SO MANY PROGRAMS!

The first Monday of every month is the Pizza and Paperbacks meeting at our North Branch.  This month we were discussing The Alchemyst by Michael Scott, a book I hadn't read before selecting it and which I couldn't even slog all the way through.  That's one of the beautiful things about such an informal book club, they're encouraged to hate the book if they hate the book.  They know if they don't finish it for whatever reason they can still come, and they know maybe the next book will be more their style.   A couple of them liked it, but only one said he liked it enough that he would read the next book in the series.

I run this book club VERY casually.  I don't come in with questions prepared, I just start by saying "so, what did you all think?"  and we go wherever the conversation takes us.  Most of them didn't care for this book, and discussing why definitely encourages them to think about things like pacing and writing style.  One things we've noticed as a group is that if an author uses too many exclamation points we tend not to like the book.  Yesterday one of the ladies mentioned that she didn't like the character name "Sophie", and she feels like it's overused in YA books.  So we stopped to investigate why an author might use that name, and looked up what the name means.  Looking up "Sophie" and "Joshua", another main character's name, led us to believe that the names HAD been chosen on purpose.  You don't need to beat them over the head with the idea of symbolism--that one quick moment taught them another place to look for it.

There was a program scheduled for today--Swing Dancing for Young Adults (ages 18-29), but it's been cancelled.  The instructor burned the heck out of his leg somehow.  It's good news for me, because if we were having the program I'd be working 8:30AM-8PM today.  Instead I get to go babysit the cutest baby in the history of babies.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Though it's snowing today there's not enough on the ground for the Snowman Building Contest I'd scheduled for today.  We schedule months in advance, so I picked today just based on the fact that I would be scheduled to work today.  We'll try again in two weeks!  There weren't many people signed up, so I don't know how well it would have gone, but a few of them were unfamiliar names.  I love to see unfamiliar names signed up for things.  I've got a great core group of teens, but I want more!

Yesterday I was off and starting to feel the pressure from all of the things I have going on right now.  A few emails and some quick poster design work and I'm ahead of the game again, though.  Just needed to actually GET those things done instead of putting them off.  I'm running our first ever Battle of the Books, and it starts Monday to coincide with our Winter Reading program.

What's that you say? Isn't Battle of the Books a thing for younger readers, not teens?  Yes, indeed it is.  Now and then I step in and do youth programs when I see a gap in our programming that no one else is willing to fill.  Someone mentioned that we should have a BotB, and I loved the idea, and so it's my project now.  It's for 4th, 5th, and 6th graders, so this will be a good way for some future teens to get to know me!