Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Reflections: Sometimes We Are Our Own Worst Enemy

When I was in high school, the movie Platoon came out. I had the soundtrack and on one of the tracks there was a bit of spoken dialogue in it. It went like this:

I think now, looking back
We did not fight the enemy
But we fought ourselves
And the enemy, was in us

And after working in public libraries for 20 years, I can't help but think that sometimes we are our own worst enemies. We put up so many obstacles and stumbling blocks for ourselves that it can become impossible to be successful at what we do. We run campaigns to remind communities how important we are and then we put processes in place that make it impossible for us to be successful at the very things we claim make us relevant.

Let's take, for example, the subject of programming. As a young adult librarian, programming has always and probably always will be a huge part of what I do. And yet I have worked at libraries where they have made it difficult to be successful at it. And by difficult I sometimes mean virtually impossible. And when I talk to my fellow YA librarians I hear the same types of stories over and over again . . .

Staff aren't given the number of hours they need to develop successful programs.

They aren't given the financial resources to develop and implement successful programs.

They have to jump through too many hoops to get the approval of people who know nothing about teens, what's popular with teens, or even what makes a program successful.

They have to jump through death defying hoops to purchase supplies for programs.

And many of the same arguments can be made for collection development, reader's advisory, outreach, etc.

Here's an example. At one of the libraries that I worked at, the library had no budget for programming, it was entirely dependent on the Friends of the Library. Because of this, the way programs were financed was odd, to say the least. I had to buy all programming supplies with my own money and then submit my receipts to the Friends to get reimbursed. Yes, you read that right - WITH MY OWN MONEY. As a YA librarian with a new baby at home, there was no extra money in my personal budget to pre-finance library programs. After years of campaigning, we finally got the process changed and though it was still imperfect, it was certainly better than being asked to front my own checkbook for library programming.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Finds - August 29, 2014

The 'OMG, is it Friday?' Edition

This Week at TLT

Sunday Reflections: Endings and Beginnings

Take 5: YouTube 24/7

Middle Grade Monday - There aren't any Wimpy Kid books in?!!

Book Review: Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

The 3rd Annual It Came From a Book Teen Art Contest (#ICFAB)

The #SVYALit Project: First Responders, part 1 (by author Christa Desir)
The #SVYALit Project: First Responders, part 2
The #SVYALit Project: The Specter of Rape in Not a Drop to Drink, a guest post by author Mindy McGinnis

Book Review: Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

Around the Web

Which programs are cut first when budgets shrink? I'll give you one guess.

Get some tips for designing your teen area (sarcasm.)

Christa Desir was at Huffington Post talking YA couples who need to break up.

Check out the Circulating Ideas podcast.

Book Review: Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

Tagline: The Bourne Identity meets Divergent in this heart-pounding debut.

Back Cover Copy: 16-year-old Sarah has a rare chance at a new life. Or so the doctors tell her. She's been undergoing a cutting-edge procedure that will render her a tabula rasa - a blank slate. Memory by memory her troubled past is being taken away.

But when her final surgery is interrupted and a team of elite soldiers invades the isolated hospital under cover of a massive blizzard, her fresh start could be her end.

Navigating familiar halls that have become a dangerous maze, with the help of a teen computer hacker who's trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, Sarah starts to piece together who she is and why someone would want her erased. And she won't be silenced again.

Karen's Thoughts:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The #SVYALit Project: The Specter of Rape in Not a Drop to Drink, a guest post by author Mindy McGinnis

A lot of people ask me about the specter of rape in NOT A DROP TO DRINK. While you'll never find the actual word anywhere in the text, it hangs over the whole like a storm about to break. Lynn, Mother and Neva all express their fears in different ways, but each one of them is highly aware of the specific threats they face anytime they walk outside.

I've caught some flack for this, as well. Do I think that all men are simply waiting for the end of the world so that they can rape indiscriminately? Um, no. Stebbs, Eli, and even the man only referred to as Green Hat are good men who serve as counterpoints to the "bad guys" who wish to control the flow of goods - water, bullets, food... and women.  However, I think it's very naive to paint a lawless world where some men don't take advantage of women. In a place where your actions are held in check only by your own conscience there will be theft, murder and rape. 

Recently at a signing I had someone say to me, "It would be horrible to feel like you have to look over your shoulder every time you walk outside." I definitely agree, but the statement stuck and I turned it over in my head as a I drove home. I look over my shoulder every time I walk outside right now. Maybe it's hyper-awareness, maybe it's all the self-defense classes, maybe it's paranoia. Or - maybe it's not. 
“Type of men who gather up seven of themselves to attack two women in the middle of the night generally won't go back for dead friends.”
Mindy McGinnis, Not a Drop to Drink 

Maybe it's just common sense.

If 60% of rapes are never reported and a whopping 97% of rapists never spend a day in jail, aren't we already living in a world where this particular crime is dictated by a person's conscience?
“Just know that there's bad men in the world, and dying fast by your mother is a better way than theirs.”
Mindy McGinnis, Not a Drop to Drink 

It's a frightening statistic, and one that makes the relationships between men and women in NOT A DROP TO DRINK even more realistic. Yet, even with this in mind I would not change anything about the book. Mother's stark isolationism and mistrust is still unhealthy, and men like Stebbs and Eli still exist.

You just have to find them. And always, always be aware of the others.
About Not a Drop to Drink:

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The #SVYALit Project: First Responders, part 2

When I was in the 8th grade, there was someone in my family who had regular access to me who was sexually molesting me. It was a progressive thing, grooming they call it. It began very subtly and slowly built in a way that made me question if what I thought was happening was in fact really happening. After I completed that year of school, I moved to go live with my mom in another state. So this person no longer had access to me. However, as Christmas approached I was going to have to go visit and I became terrified. I had escaped, and now I was going to have to go back into this place which was my very real version of hell. So I went to the school counselors office.

I'm going to be honest, I went to the school counselor to share my story thinking that when I was done the counselor would look at me and tell me that I was wrong, that I had misunderstood what had happened, because that's how manipulative grooming can be - causing you to doubt (for a really good example of this please read The Gospel of Winter by Brendan Kiely). What happened, however, was that after I told her my story she looked at me and said, I'm sorry about what happened to you, it must have been terrifying, now I have to call the police. So I waited in her office that day for the police to come. And my mother came. And the thing is, everyone believed me. Finally, someone knew, they listened, and what's most important is this: they made me feel safe.

I'd like to say that after that moment, everything was fine and justice was served but the truth is, it wasn't. The person who had done this to me was in the military and they took over the investigation and as far as I know nothing really happened. But one important thing did happen: I never had to go back and see this person. I was safe. There was no more lying in bed at night awake, terrified. That burden of fear and vigilance was gone. I still had a lot to process and heal, but the imminent threat had been removed and I was given a safe space to do that.

The idea of the first responder was first brought to my attention by Christa Desir, who blogged about it earlier today. But whether you are a first responder or someone that a sexual violence survivor chooses to share their story with, how you respond can make a world of difference. How we respond as others choose to share their stories with us can be the difference between making them feel safe or making them feel like they are once again being harmed.

The #SVYALit Project: First Responders, part 1 (by author Christa Desir)

When I was six years old, I got lost in a mall. I went out to the parking lot to look for my car and got in a stranger’s car instead, someone who told me he could help me. The half hour that followed changed my life, though I said nothing about it at the time. As a matter of fact, I said nothing about it until almost ten years later.
My best friend in high school was the first person I ever disclosed my sexual assault to. Sitting on the floor in her tiny room, she told me that something terrible had happened to her years earlier. So I told her what had happened to me. Also years earlier.

When I go to speak to high school students about the issue of sexual violence, one of the first things I say to them is that there is a really good chance that someone will disclose sexual violence to them at one point in their lifetime. Run the stats and there’s a good chance that someone will disclose sexual violence to every single one of us. But for teenagers, the chance that they’ll be the first person that their friends disclose sexual violence to is really high. Because 44% of people sexually assaulted are under the age of 18 (RAINN). And the reality is teenagers tell their friends things first.

So I wanted to talk a little today about how critical it is not to retraumatize a survivor if they do disclose rape to you. And that’s particularly important if you are the first person they disclose to. Words matter. How you respond to rape matters. It can have a huge impact on the journey a survivor takes toward healing. As a rape victim advocate, I was told that the first twenty-four hours after rape are the most important in terms of minimizing rape trauma syndrome.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The 3rd Annual It Came From a Book Teen Art Contest (#ICFAB)

The Library as Incubator Project and Teen Librarian Toolbox is proud to announce the 3rd Annual “It Came From a Book” Teen Art Contest!!!

This awesome art contest for teens is in its 3rd year, and we are so excited!  Our amazing partners this year are: The Library as Incubator ProjectEgmontUSA, and Zest Books - this project would not be possible without them!

The basics: read any book and create a piece of art inspired by the story.  Your artwork can be any type – photography, painting, drawing, sculpture, manga – we want to see it all!  Submit a JPG image file of your artwork (a scan or digital photo) to by 11:59pm CST on November 1, 2014.  Be sure to include the following information with your entry to be sure that it is eligible:
  • Subject line: ICFAB Art Contest
  • Your full name
  • Your library (school or public)
  • The title and author of the book that inspired your art
  • Include the statement “I affirm that this is an original piece of artwork.”
All teens are encouraged to enter!  Every entry will receive a confirmation e-mail, so look for that by the end of October.

There will be TWO rounds of judging.  Artwork that makes it on to the second round will be posted in a gallery here on our website and open for public voting.  Entrants will receive an e-mail regarding the results of the first round of judging.

Tell your family & friends - voting will be open from Monday, November 10th until Sunday, November 16th at midnight.  One winner, announced on November 24th, will receive FREE books from EgmontUSA, Zest Books, and Teen Librarian Toolbox, as well as some great swag from the Library as Incubator Project.

For Librarians: Be sure to download this year’s poster to promote the contest with your teens!  And let us know if you run your own art contest in conjunction with ours.  We’d love to hear from you! You can get all the downloads at The Library as Incubator Project website:

Book Review: Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

I have been wanting to read Some Girls Are for some time now because it has been recommended to me for The #SVYALit Project. And to be honest, This Is Not a Test is one of my favorite zombie books ever. So yesterday I was driving with the fam for one last summer fling and I grabbed the book on my way out the door and yep, I read it in one day because it was fantastic. I have been trying to slog my way through another book, which will remain nameless for the moment, so being excited to read Some Girls Are was just the kick in my reader pants that I needed. It hasn't taken me a week to read a book since I was like 7 so I was getting to the point of despair.

If you want the short summation of how I feel about Some Girls Are, consider this: Last night I was half way through when my girls came into the room and turned on a shark movie. I didn't even put the book down to watch the shark movie, I just kept reading. For those of you who have spent enough time with me, this is a really big deal. Shark movies are event tv in my house, one of our favorite things ever. But I could not - I did not want to - stop reading Some Girls Are.

The other really amazing thing about Some Girls Are is that the main character, Regina, is really a kind of horrible person - and yet you are completely sympathetic to her. 

When we first meet Regina, she is the designated driver at a party. She goes into the den to take her best friend and Queen Bee Anna home when Anna's boyfriend, Donnie, attempts to rape her. She gets away, but this event is the beginning of her social decline because others manipulate it to their own social advantage. This is a Queen Bees and Wannabees system where the little sharks are just looking for ways to eat the bigger sharks alive and when Regina reaches out in a moment of real vulnerability and desperation, she gets bitten in the ass is some majorly disturbing ways. It turns out that Regina has been riding on the social coattails of Anna and her free ride is about to be over.

So once the major participant of some major (and majorly destructive) social destruction campaigns, Regina is now the target and it turns out she has made a lot of enemies who are delighting in her downfall.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Middle Grade Monday - There aren't any Wimpy Kid books in?!!

I was recently asked by a staff member to come up with a list of suggestions for her 3rd grader who has read the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books 'a million times.' I run into this problem quite often. Students get fixated on a particular author, series, or format of books and are reluctant to try anything new. I understand their pain; I have favorite books that I reread on a regular basis. They are both comforting in their familiarity and enlightening in their ability to show me new aspects to the story and/or characters each time.

This list is for all of those students who are fixated on the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series of books and need emergency care when they are all checked out. It's not intended to be exhaustive, and seems to land heavily on the male protagonist side. Most of them are also the first book in a series - yay, more to read! Please feel free to add your suggestion in the comments!

"In this funny, uncannily wise portrait of the dynamics of a sixth-grade class and of the greatness that sometimes comes in unlikely packages, Dwight, a loser, talks to his classmates via an origami finger puppet of Yoda. If that weren’t strange enough, the puppet is uncannily wise and prescient. Origami Yoda predicts the date of a pop quiz, guesses who stole the classroom Shakespeare bust, and saves a classmate from popularity-crushing embarrassment with some well-timed advice. Dwight’s classmate Tommy wonders how Yoda can be so smart when Dwight himself is so clueless. With contributions from his puzzled classmates, he assembles the case file that forms this novel."

Take 5: YouTube 24/7

If you spend any time with Tweens, you know that they are obsessed - OBSESSED - with YouTube. And Vine and Instagram. But seriously, YouTube. When The Tween's friends come over their favorite thing to do is sit around and watch YouTube videos. YouTube - and social media in general - is so popular that the Teen Choice Awards recently added several categories giving out awards to a new type of star that has circumvented traditional pathways to superstardom. 

And although there are some legitimate concerns about tweens and teens using social media, particularly about things like online privacy, digital footprints and online bullying (cyberbullying), social media is also allowing teens to be creative, learn technology skills, think proactively, and take initiative. 

Here are a few YouTubers that are super popular, and you can find a full list of the Teen Choice Award social media nominees at SugarScape to get more information on who is popular right now.


Bunny goes by the handle Grav3yardgirl. She is a woman in her 20s (almost 30s) who shoots a variety of YouTube videos including a segment called Follow Me Around and Does It Really Work. For the follow me around segments, she literally goes into a store and you follow her around. And for the does it really work segment she tests out various products to see - you guessed it - if it really works. Here she is testing out the Soda Stream product:

Bethany Mota