Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

TPIB: Kitchen Road Trippin’ – Eat (and Read) Around the Globe

If you have ever read my bio here at TLT, you know that I hate to cook. Loathe and detest it.  But – I have kids.  They insist on eating.  Several times a day actually.  They will in fact ask if they can have a snack WHILE they are eating dinner.  So, I got my hands on some cookbooks.  They seem to be easy to find where I work (wink wink).  I was particularly interested in a copy of The Mother Daughter Cookbook: Recipes to Nourish Relationships by Lynette Rohrer Shirk (Zest Books) because it said Mother & Daughter right there in the title.  So it had to be for me – right?  Well, I have yet to actually cook anything out of the book.  Or anything from another book.  But . . .

There is a section in The Mother Daughter Cookbook called Kitchen Road Trippin that is just screaming to be a TPIB.  This section calls for recipes from all over including: Hawaiian Pineapple-Ham Kabobs, Tex-Mex Corn Canoes, Georgia Pecan Peaches, Coast to Coast Pizza, and Baked Alaska Brownies.  They sound mouth watering delicious.  Especially the brownies, yum.

Pair that with this amazing Unites States of YA map put together at Epic Reads, and you have a fantastic Reading Road Trip.

Screen grab of The United State of YA, copyright of Epic Reads
Thank you Epic Reads for putting this together 
You should visit Epic Reads often

In fact, it would make an “epic” (see what I did there?) book discussion group theme.  Spend the year reading through the US and sharing foods from the various states you are reading about.  Have a little trivia contest prepared about the state in question at each meeting.  And think of some of the fun regional things you can do: make leis on the day you talk about Hawaii (Under the Blood Red Sun) and have Hawaiian Kabobs, read Divergent and have some Chicago deep dish pizza, discuss a little Julie of the Wolves while you have some baked Alaskan brownies and make sugar cube igloos.

World Reads, World Eats 
I have always wanted to do a community taste test around the world.  Get your local food places to donate food and set up an event: you would have Italian food, Chinese food, Thai food, etc.  Then everyone can come in and taste food from local businesses while you get a flare for food around the world.  And the possible tie-ins are astounding: you can have multicultural performers, crafts from around the world. 

I have read about libraries having pizza taste tests where teens come and sample pizza from local pizza places and then vote on their favorite.

I have done a version of Iron Chef at my library (documented here) and really recommend it.

As for the reading part, put together a reading booklist road trip – with a road map of course! – and turn your traditional book club to a read across the US or across the World.  You can use your good friend Google to find crafts that go along with each location (or recipes if you so choose).  

You can use the recipes in The Mother Daughter Cookbook for this reading road map:

Hawaii: Return to Me by Justina Chen with Hawaiian Pineapple Ham Kabobs

Texas: In Honor by Jessi Kirby with Tex Mex Corn Canoes (bonus, this book is actually about a road trip)

Georgia:  Hex Hall and Georgia Pecan Peaches

Alaska: Touching Spirit Bear and Baked Alaska Brownies

General Craft Note: If you don’t want to do specific crafts for each location, you can have your participants make postcards of either the location you are reading about or the journey as a whole with your book club.  You could also make scrapbooks (or mini-scrapbooks) and passports.  While doing the reading club put a large map on the wall and pin each location you “visit” with your books.

PS, for those of you who are worried about my children.  The Mr. does the cooking.  I did recently make chili in the crockpot.  They are being fed.

Coming soon: 5 multicultural crafts and a book to pair them with for an International Reading Road Trip.

Let There Be Fanfare (and a Book Giveaway!)

This just in: Today TLT surpassed Half a Million Page Views.

As a thank you to our readers, I’m going to give away a box of 5 books.  Just leave a comment between now and Friday, March 29th to be entered to win.  Leave an email or Twitter contact so we can get in touch with you.  Because of shipping costs, I am very sorry but we have to keep it to US readers only.  If you live outside the US, please know I love you!!

Also, thank you to Stephanie Wilkes, Christie Gibrich, and Heather Booth who spend A LOT of time answering e-mails, writing posts, and just putting up with me in general.  They are the best co-bloggers EVAR. 
And thanks to Cuyler Creech, Chris Dahl, our Tween reviewers, Kearsten and more for their occasional appearances here.  
And, of course, thanks to the authors who have shared posts and the publishers who sometimes send ARCs for us to review.

Why YA? David James talks The Year of Ice

Author David James will be hosting our #TLTDiversity Twitter chat on Wednesday. Today, he is telling us “Why YA?”

I can be fearful of things in the way we all can be when the words “what” and “if” are squeezed together to create uncertainty. When separate, those two little words are harmless; together, they may be reason enough to make the world shake. What if I can’t? What if I’m wrong? What if this doesn’t work? Pushed together, those two little words can be scary, but they are why I love to read YA. You see, to me YA isn’t about following reason. Like Brian Malloy’s The Year of Ice, most YA literature is about following your heart. Instead of living through reason or fear, YA is about living through love and hope.
St. Martin’s 2002 ISBN 9780312313692
The Year of Ice is a dance between who one boy thinks he should be and who he wants to be. Kevin Doyle is lost. His mother is gone, and his father might as well be. Stuck in a world where everyone knows him but where he doesn’t know himself, Kevin’s life is filled with self-discovery, secrets, and sexuality. Family and divorce and prejudice. Young loves and old loves. But like those two little words we can sometimes fear, when everything in Brian Malloy’s symphony builds and comes crashing together, The Year of Ice is about much more than the uncertain fears of one boy. This is a story about life, love, and loss. A story about finding possibility in a place where it’s not usually found. About living when life is difficult. And here, this quote from The Year of Ice, is one of the reasons why I read YA so often: “I won’t regret what I didn’t do. That’s important too. Not second-guessing yourself. Because you can make up this whole life based on what you didn’t do. And it’s always a wonderful life, better than the one you have.”  
I’ve lived for twenty six years and like Kevin Doyle, I still don’t know exactly who I should be. I know who I am, who I want to be. But as for who I shouldbe, I’m not really sure. I’m not sure anyone ever truly is. Still, I try not to second guess myself. I try to live without regrets. I try to follow my heart, use love instead of strict reason. Because sometimes in life there is no reason. Just love. Or maybe it’s hope. Maybe it’s hope that makes us tick, and love that makes us breathe. In the end, maybe loving is living. And maybe, just maybe, when we place “what” and “if” side by side, we are creating possibility instead of fear. Hope instead of uncertainty.
So, why do I read YA? Because we are all still a little unsure. We all could use some reminding of the romanticism of youth and the wonderful hope it brings to our jaded realities. We all live lives filled with questions, some quiet and some loud. We all have secrets, curiosities as to who we are and who we will become. We all wonder what will happen when “what” and “if” collide. And most importantly, I read YA because we all still fall in love, and because sometimes we need to be reminded that it’s okay to follow our hearts.
Bio: David James writes books about stars and kisses and curses. He is the author of the YA novel, LIGHT OF THE MOON, the first book in the Legend of the Dreamer series. A novella for the series, THE WARRIOR’S CODE, as well as the sequel, SHADOW OF THE SUN, will be released in 2013. Living in Michigan, he is addicted to coffee, gummy things, and sarcastic comments. He enjoys bad movies and shivery nights, but doesn’t really like writing bios about himself in the third person. Be sure to visit David’s facebook and twitter to learn more about his various addictions and novels.

Book Review: Prophecy by Ellen Oh

Fire shot up from the ground like geysers, and all around them fiendish figures danced about in wild abandon. Kira screamed again, over and over, but her screams excited the demons further, sending them into a rampage as they clawed her clothes and raked sharp talons against her flesh. Ahead, a figure grew to immense proportions in the midst of the dancing creatures. She knew immediately what it was: the Demon Lord.

Grayish-black skin gleamed as it filled her vision entirely, until all she saw before her was a face. Black eyes with red pupils stared at her while the great slash of a mouth turned into a large, gaping hole that pulled itself into a bizarre semblance of a smile. This creature looked nothing like she’d imagined. It was far worse.

Kira looked into the black eyes and found horror and death staring back at her. She tore her gaze away and saw the cavern had changed into a battlefield. Kwas and Jaewon fought Yamato soldiers of incredible speed and strength. One soldier looked directly at her, his skin melting away to reveal the demon underneath. Grinning, the demon stabbed Jaewon through his abdomen, while other creatures dragged Kwan from view.

The battlefield went up in a blaze of fire and then burned out to reveal Taejo alone, surrounded and outnumbered, but fighting bravely. A horde of half-breed soldiers rushed him all at once, engulfing Taejo until he disappeared.
“Taejo!” Kira screamed. “Taejo!”

She turned to the Demon Lord. “What do you want?”

The monster laughed. Smoke billowed from its mouth. 

“The end of you all!” it replied, the voice bellowing as the enormous mouth grew larger and closer, until it surrounded her in darkness.

The only female fighter in the King’s army, Kira was born with a curse- yellow eyes that can see the demons that are trying to overrun the country and destroy the Kingdom. Demonslayer and outcast, Kira goes on the run with the young prince when the Kingdom is betrayed and the King is murdered. With only the guidance of a cryptic prophecy, Kira and the prince may be the saviors of the world, but first they must battle demon soldiers, an evil shaman, and the Demon Lord in order to survive.

Ellen Oh writes a wonderful beginning of a trilogy blending Korean folklore with a full fantasy adventure. Kira, daughter of the weaponsmaster, was born with the ability to see demons- called a kumiho by her clansmen, she is outcast yet is sworn to protect her young prince from the demons that seem to be invading with alarming frequency. When the Kingdom is betrayed and the King killed, Kira takes Taejo and hides within the countryside and runs to an uncle’s Kingdom for protection. Meanwhile, the monks believe that Taejo, or possibly Kira, is the Dragon Warrior, the one destined to defeat the Demon Lord and unite the Kingdoms in peace. Yet how can a teenage girl and a young boy unite the fractured kingdoms with all the evil against them?  Highly intertwined with Korean tradition, Kira is extremely believable and has her own doubts about her own abilities that make her very reachable to teens. The challenges she faces, and the story that Oh weaves, leave readers tearing through to the end, and desperately waiting for the next book to see what will happen next. A good paring with Alison Goodman’s Eon and Eona series, or Cashore’s Graceling.  4 out of 5 stars. As of March 22, 2013, Goodreads has Prophecy listed at 3.51 stars.  

NOTE: There is a LOT of sword fighting in this book, and mass suicide. It is not extremely graphic, but it is there, and I have some impressionable teens who, while they would love the world Oh builds, would not be comfortable with the fighting or the images of the suicides.

I loved this book. The world is so beautiful, the writing is so lush, and I didn’t want it to end. I think teens will really relate to Kira and her outcast status, and her abilities to see demons where no one else can see just adds to her “awesomeness” factor. I can see Kira taking her place with Eona or Katniss- she’s that dedicated to her family and her mission, as much as they are, and her story is just as heartbreaking as theirs are.

The prejudice against Kira is more than her yellow eyes, it is her roughness as well. She’s a woman fulfilling a man’s role, and that is completely unacceptable in the realm; it’s driven home early on when the Queen (Kira’s aunt) arranges for her marriage even though she is the sworn protector to the young prince. The duality of her roles, and the challenge of fulfilling both her duties and her desires, will be interesting in the coming books.

Things They Don’t Teach You in Library School: Sexual Harassment? Yes, it can happen in the library

In my now almost 20 years as a librarian, I have either directly or indirectly been involved in numerous incidents of people viewing porn on the computer and, more disturbingly, 5 men being caught masturbating in the library.  One of those times occurred in my YA area and the person in question left behind “physical evidence” that required us to remove the chair and store it until the case went to trial.  This happened when I was in my very early twenties.  At that time, there was this guy, around my age, that worked with me and we were pretty decent friends.  Then one day, he jokingly asked me if I wanted to go down into the basement and sit in “that” chair with him.  This made me pretty uncomfortable and forever changed our relationship, but it was years before I spoke to anyone about it.

Many years later, I would tell my mentor and friend that I kind of thought that maybe I was being sexually harassed by him and mentioned the incident and she said yes, that is what that was and she wished that I had come talk to her when it happened.  The thing is, we don’t like to think bad things about people.  And it seems kind of conceited to think that someone would be doing that to you; I mean, I’m nobody special or anything.  But after that incident, I went out of my way to make sure I wasn’t alone with this man. My work environment and experience of work changed.

Fast forward to another time, another library. 

We had a new library director and I was invigorated by all the new energy he brought and the fact that he was finally making some of the changes that I had been wanting to do for years.  Things were happening and it was exciting. But as we all know, not everyone likes change and there was definitely some push back.  So one day, while standing around talking to some employees, a male co-worker looked over me and said something like, “why don’t you just get your head out of the director’s lap.”  Suddenly, the world stopped. You could have heard a pin drop.

This time, I went to a private place and called my friend and mentor and yes, she said, he was in fact saying what I thought he was saying.  Now all I had to do was decide whether or not I would take the situation to the director.  Except that a person involved in the conversation, another man, was so bothered by what happened that he felt he had to go say something.  In the end, I believe a verbal warning was issued.  I got to forever be embarrassed by the way I was treated in front of some of my co-workers. I got to worry about whether or not my passion for my job was being misinterpreted.  I got to walk through the doors and wonder every day what my co-workers thought of me now that this black, inky accusation made out of anger hung in the air.  That incident changed my work environment, it changed how safe I felt at work and it changed the way I interacted with my coworkers at all levels.  It made me second guess who I was, what I did, and how I approached my job.  In short, it sucked.

I have worked with some amazing men in my years at the library.  Some I call friends.  Some I admire for their passion, knowledge and dedication.  But like a lot of women, I have been on the uncomfortable end of sexual innuendo and it can really change the dynamics of a work environment.

A lot of people misinterpret female passion at work as aggressiveness and many people, especially some men, take offense to it.  They hate it even more if that means they lose control or have to make changes.  While take charge men are applauded for their ability to get things done, the same traits in women are viewed radically different.

Part of what keeps much workplace sexual harassment hidden, is that it is in our nature, I believe, to explain it away in our minds.  “Why would someone want to sexually harass me?” you think.  “What makes me so special, so deserving?”  Or we feel like it exhibits a conceitedness on our part to suggest that a man is talking to or approaching us in a way that is suggestive (or vice versa). Except that in a lot of cases, maybe most, it isn’t about desire or beauty or worth, it is about anger and control and wanting to demean; it’s about making sure a woman understands her place in the world and at the work place.  And this applies to all sexual harassment; women can and do sexually harass men.

So here is what I have learned to do:

If something makes you uncomfortable, report it to a supervisor.  It is their job to determine how to handle the situation and help make sure you have a completely safe and healthy work environment.

If there are witnesses, make a note of who they are and pass that information along as well.

I am a firm believer in written documentation.  After you talk to your supervisor, type up an e-mail summarizing what happened, the discussion you just had with your supervisor, and any action points that may be mentioned.  Send a copy to your supervisor and keep one for yourself.  Print it out.  Should the incident need further investigation or the behavior continue, you now have a paper trail.  Don’t whitewash your documentation, use exact words and phrases to document as clearly as possible the picture of what happened.

It is sad to say, but watch for retaliation and malicious gossip.  Report and document every single thing that happens.

Ask your library to have someone come in and do staff training.  Make sure your library’s policy is clear and direct on what constitutes harassment, what to do in the event that it happens, and what the library’s response will be.

Know that despite the library’s policy, or lack thereof should that be the case, there are laws in place to protect you.

Keep in mind, sexual harassment can also come from patrons.  In this event, you should follow all the same guidelines as above.  And your library policy should also discuss this type of harassment.

The bottom line: Sexual harassment is wrong.  The library should be a safe place for every employee that walks through its doors.   We are all working towards the same goals, are all part of the same team, so everyone should be treated with professionalism and respect.

Disclaimer: This post is meant to talk generally about the issue of sexual harassment and is not intended to serve as a foundation for policy nor is it in any way a discussion of the legal issues. I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV.

How do you know you work with teens?

The TLT Staff: We love working with teens!

10.  You find yourself trying out program names to make sure they can’t be turned into some type of sexual joke.  In your day to day life, you realize that you can turn ANYTHING into a sexual reference.  Sometimes at a dinner party an adult will say something and you start giggling because it instantly has become a sexual reference, it’s best to keep the reason why to yourself.

9.  You notice every time someone say “Do Do” in a sentence.  “Yes, I do do that sometimes” the pastor says in church, and you have to keep yourself from giggling.

8.  You know all the best slang.  And sometimes find yourself using it.

7.  You know all the best fart jokes. And you know exactly who “Seymour Butts” is.

6.  Your water cooler talk involves shows like The Vampire Diaries, Teen Wolf and The Secret Life of the American Teenager.  Your favorite TV stations include ABC Family, the CW, and various forms of MTV.

5.  When an ad for a new movie based on a teen book comes out your significant other calls out from the other room, “you’ll have to find one of your friends to go see that with you.”  And you know just who to call.  There is no question as to whether or not YOU are going.

4.  When someone at work gets on the computer after you they want to know why you were reading an article about how Selena Gomez is doing just fine after her breakup with Justin Beiber thank you. Or One Direction. Or Taylor Swift.  Your explanation, “It’s research for my job.” (And it really is.)

3.  You have the Lemonade Mouth soundtrack on your iPhone. (I really do.) (I also have Selena Gomez, The Wanted, The Jonas Brothers and more.)

2. You have a tendency to say catch phrases like “May the odds be ever in your favor”.

1. While at an adult event, you mention you are a librarian and someone says, “Oh, have you read INSERT LATEST ADULT BESTSELLER here” and you say, “No, but I am currently reading INSERT CURRENT YA BESTSELLER HERE” and everyone looks at you with a blank stare and blinks.

Add to our list in the comments!

TPiB: Instagram crafts

Every Friday in March we’re sharing crafts with our favorite website, The Library as Incubator Project.  Check their site out for awesome ways to incorporate art into your library and programming.  This week, I am sharing with you some of my favorite things to do with Instagram pictures.
Instagram is perhaps one of the hottest tech (social media) tools being used right now.  If you aren’t familiar with it (are there people who aren’t?), it is a photo app for a smart phone that let’s you take and manipulate pictures quickly and beautifully and then easily share them online.  I love Instagram pictures hard core, take dozens or more a day, and use them a lot right here on this blog.  I am always trying to find new ways to use them and have found a variety of enchanting crafts that you can incorporate them into.
For example, you can Mod Podge them onto anything, including a canvas to create stunning artwork for your walls.  Coasters, book covers, votive candles – I am not kidding, you can use them to decorate literally anything.  There is an entire blog dedicated to Mod Podge, so check it out.

If you get really ambitious, you can try and do this photo transfer craft that I found at A Beautiful Mess. I was possibly less successful at it then they were.

Quick Tip: Instagram is not the only awesome app out there.  You can use TypoInsta to add text, WordFoto to make your picture into a word photo, and FilterMania 2 has a ton of easy overlays (frames) that you can use.  You can run your picture through several different apps to maximize creativity.  Here is a look at some of my personal favorites. 

You can also create a variety of unique mini-scrapbooks that capitalize on the tiny size of Instagram photos.  (If you have ever tried to print them you know that a standard photo printing lab can not in fact print them because they are smaller than 4×6 and they don’t format correctly).

Today, I am sharing with you my favorite mini-scrapbook which presents itself as the perfect gift to share with others.  You can make a mother’s day present, father’s day, or a graduation gift for your best friend filled with photos of your life together.  And if you size it right, they are fun and easy to fill with your favorite Instagram pictures.  You can import your Instagram pictures into a program like Microsoft Publisher, size them and then print them on regular copy paper for this project.

This project is a modified verions of THIS craft.  If any of the instructions get confusing, you check out the inspirational post at Scrap ‘N Frames.com. 

Supplies Needed:
Empty cereal box (for your top and bottom cover)
Plain card stock paper, 12 x 12 (I prefer black)
Duct Tape
Stickers and other embellishments
Several – like 10 or more – Instagram prints size 4×4 

This is what we are making, a mini scrapbook that folds up like an accordion to fill with your favorite Instagram pics.

Step 1: Creating Your Cover

Cut your empty box into two equal size squares, 4 1/2 by 4 1/2.

Other instructions tell you to cut and cover your squares with wrapping or scrapbook paper, but I am here to tell you how to make it easier on yourself: Duct Tape! That’s right, cover both sides of each square with duct tape. Simple, fast, easy – and totally cool. And they have so many cool designs and colors now that you can’t go wrong.

To create a closure for your book, Duct tape one piece of ribbon onto the underside of 1 of your covers.  You will use this at the end to wrap around your book and tie it shut.  It makes it look like a mini gift.

Note: You can also cover your scrapbook cover with scrapbook or wrapping paper if you don’t want to use Duct tape.

Quick Tip: Duct Tape totally does horrible things to your scissors, so have Goo Gone nearby to keep them sharp and clean. Clean scissors make happy cuts, gooey scissors make angry cuts.

Step 2: Folding Your Pages

First, you need to turn your 12 by 12 paper into 8 by 8 sized paper.
You want to make sure your paper is cut down to 8 by 8 size, there will be a little bit of trimming involved.  To make straight lines, a paper cutter can be your best friend. But you can also just use the edge of a metal ruler if you are careful.

Now comes the tricky bit, folding your paper.  Basically, if you make these 3 simple folds you create the lines necessary to fold your paper. 

Next, you need to fold your sheet into the accordion format.  There are really great instructions for that here.  Basically, you fold your paper like this:

Fold your first sheet of paper in half.

  Open your paper, rotate 90 degrees and fold in half again.

  Open your paper and flip it over.

Fold your paper from corner to corner to make a triangle.

Repeat folds with the second sheet of paper.

The two papers should now fold into a smaller square.

One square can be inserted into the other square and glue to create an accordion folding  square.

Glue two sheets together by placing them as pictured above.  You can make your mini scrapbook as big as you would like by adding additional pages.

When you are done, they will all fold together accordion style into one neat square like this:

Step 3: Attaching the Covers

Because your covers have Duct tape, you’ll want to use a stapler and staple a cover to to each side of your folded sheets, making sure you only use the top sheet of each end so your book will open properly.  Simply use a piece of Duct tape to cover the staples on the outside of your cover.  In traditional accordion scrapbooks you glues the cover onto the sheets, but Duct tape will prevent this from working properly.

Step 4: Filling the Pages

You can import your Instagram pictures into a program like Microsoft Publisher and size them correctly for your scrapbook.  You’ll want them to be 4×4 in size to fit inside.  After correctly sizing the pics, simply print on regular paper in color and you are ready to complete your album.

Get creative with it! Add stickers, captions, lettering and more to make it unique and pop.

Doing this as a library program:
To make it an easy library program, set up stations and precut some of the pieces.
Station 1: Make your cover.  Have a table with precut squares, scissors and duct tape.
Station 2: Fold the insides. Have a variety of card stock available.
Station 3: Give it guts. Stickers, etc.
Station 4: Printing station. You will need to help teens import and print their photos. Have a laptop ready to go. 

Some other things you can do with Instagram pictures
Girl on a Board ideas
A variety of other types of mini scrapbooks
TPiB: Turn your Instagram photos into photobooth bookmarks 
More iPhone Apps to make awesome pics 

Tweens in the Library: Getting Them Involved in Summer Reading Programming

I am a huge believer of keeping my patrons involved in our library.  If they’re invested in the library and the community, they have a reason to come back, and feel like they belong.  I’ve always felt that way, no matter what library I’ve worked in- large branch or small.  Libraries are such a huge portion of the community, and when the community is invested in it, it takes on a life of it’s own.

I apply this heavily in my tween programming.  I’m heavy in the middle of summer programming, and we (Texas) just switched from having a state program to investing in the Collaborative Summer Reading Program, so our theme for the tween set (which I define as eight through twelve years old, YMMV) is Dig Into Reading.  If your tweens are anything like mine, it didn’t exactly inspire much enthusiasm (flowers, Miss?  REALLY? Plants? WORMS?)  So, it’s my job to GET them enthused- this is the age where reading goes to aliteracy, and they’re not old enough for the lock-in and teen things but old enough to WANT them.  These are the ages where they get so BORED with summer reading, so to get them invested is the BEST thing we can do.

First, I took the CSRP theme and thought up twelve themes for tweens that I thought would work best- ones that I knew I could create some interesting programs for my kids.  Then I created a ballot and had them vote.  Looking at the programming calendar, I knew that I had three programs that I needed tween themes for. The three with the most votes would be the programs for the summer.

After two weeks of voting, I had my three themes:  Mummies, Wizards, and Spies.

Next, I went through the PG listings of movies covered by our umbrella license, and pulled out movies that would fit the three themes, and highlighted them in different colors.  I then let two of my tweens loose with my list and a computer set to IMDB.com, and had them put YES, NO, or 1/2 for their preferences (half being if they couldn’t come to a decision).

 From their list of movies with definite approval, I pulled out ones that I knew I could stand to watch (a definite requirement for *any* program that I do) and have created our Tween Movie Ballot below.

This week is our school system’s spring break week, so they’ll vote for their favorite in each category, and the winner will be the movie we watch.  I’ll tie it in with crafts, games, and other activities pulled from the Internet and the chaos that is my brain, and we’ll have a wonderful time.  

And, not only have I gotten some of my summer programming done, but I’ve gotten a large group of my tweens interested in what’s going on, what the results are, and what we’re doing for the summer- and it’s mid March.

How do you get your tweens involved in your library?  What programs are you planning for your tweens this summer?  Share in the comments!

Take 5: Pinterest Boards for Crafting with Teens

Love it or hate it, Pinterest collects a wealth of ideas in a graphically pleasing way, and is an especially popular way to access craft ideas.  For National Craft Month, we’re highlighting five great Pinterest boards that focus on teen crafts that can be done, have been done, or we dream of getting done in libraries.

1.  Fargo Public Library: Book Crafts

Focusing on projects using repurposed books, this is a tidy page of individual projects as well as links to other sites with multiple projects.
(A word of experience regarding the books-into-boxes project featured – if you try it out, make your life easier: spend $20 and get an oscillating multitool.)

2.  Gina DeLoretta Meinl: Teen Crafts

With an emphasis on re-purposed, inexpensive crafts, an eye to trends in the library world, and thematic weeks and YALSA events, this board offers some totally doable craft ideas and a fun amount of whimsy to shake it up.

Over 500 pins here with plenty of links to external collections of thematic tutorials on stuff like duct tape projects, wearable crafts, repurposing jeans, and fine art.  Swartz has organized other boards with more targeted uses: this year’s SRP theme, eco projects, and science experiments as well.

Here’s where it starts to get fun.  The Libraries As Incubator Project is collecting your craft project ideas this month to add to this board.  It’s a new and growing board from this really exciting project that  you should definitely know about if you’re incorporating the creative process into your library programs.

Yes, this is my own board, but it’s not *just* my own board.  This is another place to get in on the fun.  Begun in 2011, this board quickly grew to a place where over 200 teen librarians and advocates share their favorite craft and program ideas, or bookmark their ambitious plans.  You’ll discover thematic waves as you scroll through it.  Zombies, Hunger Games, Harry Potter, T-shirts, gaming, re-purposed books, etc.  There is a lot of information and inspiration here.  Comment on this post, on one of my pins on the board, or drop me an email if you’d like me to add you on as a collaborator.


Things I Never Learned In Library School: Weeping over Weeding

In the US, people are always using the term “Spring Cleaning.” We get it from being locked away for months at a time by the awful, nasty winter weather, and having needed to clean and dust when we could open the windows and let clean, fresh air in the house- usually around March.  (Obviously these people never lived in Texas, where there would be pollen everywhere.)  

In my library, I always equate spring cleaning with spring weeding; we’ve survived winter break, we have time before summer reading beings, and it’s the perfect time to take a look at the collection and see what’s circulating and what’s not.  I’ve had the classes at school and know that weeding a library collection is needed, just like weeding a garden: you have to take out those that aren’t doing well so that your collection can bloom and flourish.  If you’re at a loss for how to start weeding, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission has some awesome online materials that you can use.  However, what library school never taught me was that I need to educate three separate populations about WHY we need to weed: our patrons, our library friends/board, and our library staff.


My patrons LOVE our library, which is wonderful. They know that we love them back, and we want to have interesting and engaging things for them to browse and check out. We want them to have a say, and we have a running list of suggestions for things to purchase. We do our best with the materials budget that we have, and the amount of space that we have for materials is extremely limited.  

Even so, I have had an extremely hard time getting patrons to understand that weeding is GOOD for a library. They HATE to see books leave the library- as if I’m taking something away from them. I have the hardest time getting them to understand that weeding saves them time by not having to sort through overcrowded shelves, or not having to stand on their heads to look for things that are on those weird, useless bottom shelves. Or that the majority of our books are staying in the system, just that they’re being adding to the Main Library’s collection. Or that if they’re not added to the Main Library’s collection, and are eventually withdrawn entirely, they’re placed in the library’s booksale, and that money comes back to us in the form of funding for library programs like the summer reading program or family movie nights.

So, I weed in secret.  I’ll gather my lists, and weed in the hours I’m at work before the library is open to the public, or when no one is around to ask questions.  I feel like I’m sneaking around to do my job, and it’s a hassle to juggle things around in my schedule, but it’s better that than try to explain why we’re taking THIS book and THAT book off the shelf.


A second group that in previous instances that have been extremely hard to get on my side with regards to collection weeding are the library friends and the library board. I have been extremely lucky in that for the most part where I have worked, the Friends of the Library and/or the Library Boards have been extremely supportive of library initiatives and goals.  They have visited often, have stayed involved in what the library was doing, have assisted in community programming, and have supported new initiatives that we wanted to do.

We, as library specialists, see weeding as necessary to improve the appearance of the library and to maintain the order of the library.  They, however, sometimes perceive that money is wasted because materials are being taken out of the collection. Where we see changes in the population and demographics of the area, and therefore in the usage of the collection over time, the Friends and Board can see it as out-of-touch librarians who don’t know what to order and aren’t serving their communities. Add in that some Friends of the Library and Library Board members can have their favorite authors or areas in the library, whether they circulate or not, and you can have a political minefield on your hands when you try to weed.
So I keep them involved. I keep my weeding on a schedule, so they know when it’s coming every year. I know what sections are their “pets” and keep those sections as current as my budget allows, and let them know when they come for visits what new materials may spark their interests. When we have reports to Friends and the Board, we mention that we’re weeding, and what sections so that there are no surprises. My current Friends of the Library use our withdrawn selections in their booksales, and the money goes back into supporting the library.  It saves a lot of headaches, and keeps everyone informed and happy.


One of the hardest groups I’ve ever had to deal with in regards to weeding has been library staff, especially other librarians. Maybe I just have a special attitude or something, but I was always of the opinion that if it’s not circulating then it either needs a special book talk to get it going or it needs a new home. I have never taken weeding personally- some things just didn’t do well in the community, and you live and learn. However, I have learned over the course of my career that there are some that take weeding to heart, and for them, taking a book out of the collection they’ve created is throwing daggers into their professional career. It doesn’t make any sense to me, but that’s how they feel.

You know that saying, “Show me your friends, and I can tell you who you are?” Look at a library’s collection, and you can see their philosophy about a lot of things.  Weeding is not personal, and shouldn’t taken as such. It saves staff time by not having to search through stacks and piles of books, and you won’t have to shift and re-shift materials. You make your library more appealing, which means more use and more bodies, which means more stats, which always looks good to the higher-ups. You enhance your reputation because you become known for having “the good materials” and having “the new stuff.”  There are tons of reasons to weed, and not one good one not to.

Still have someone refusing to weed, or acting like you’re beating puppies?  You’re going to have to take a hard line, but stick to your guns. Weeding is necessary and anyone that’s in charge of a collection should be responsible for the weeding of said collection. If you are the manager and have someone that is refusing or reluctant to weed, you’re going to have to set guidelines for them to weed. Take a look at your collection stats for their section, and set reasonable milestones for them to accomplish. For example, if you want them to weed the picture books, give them a set deadline to accomplish it (say, 2-3 weeks depending on their schedule and other projects).  If, after that 2-3, they haven’t weeded enough, have them go back over it again, mentioning that there still is deadweight. Ask if they have questions- if they don’t understand how to weed, it’s one thing, but if they’re just being stubborn, it’s another.  Either way, by the time one section is complete, expectations should be set for the other areas they are responsible for.

Nobody wants to be weeping over weeding.

What issues have you run into with weeding at your library? Share in the comments!

Karen’s take:

If you can, don’t weed out in the open where the public can see. Like Christie said, it makes them seriously cranky.  If you must do large collection weeding out where the patrons can see, make sure all staff are trained on some basic talking points; it is helpful if staff know what to say and how to say it.  Also, use common sense when weeding: I worked at a library that was cutting staff and asking patrons to support their libraries by writing their legislators while we were doing a large scale weeding project.  It was absolutely the right thing to do for the collection, but it looked bad doing it where all the patrons could see and they definitely noticed.  We ended up setit up a computer to weed in a more private location so the patrons couldn’t see.

As Christie mentions, it is a great to have a weeding schedule.  I usually like December because it is traditionally the slowest time at my library, but spring makes sense too.

Make it your goal to keep all your library shelves no more than 3/4 length full so that you can use the ends of shelves to face out books.  This will increase circulation. And it makes everything look nice and merchandised.

Try the “last chance” cart.  Some titles may no be circulating, perhaps they are on the top or bottom shelves, and it may break your heart to discard them.  Put out a cart of “last chance” titles and see if they circulate.  You may be able to save a few.

The most difficult experience I ever had weeding was when I had to discard the entire Buffy the Vampire Slayer book collection.  We have over a shelf of them and they were all basically being held together by glue, sweat and rubber bands.  And yes, they were still circulating.  And yes, patrons asked about them.  But even they had to admit that the Buffy books were not long for this world, they were seriously falling apart.