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What a strange time to be a woman, a guest post by Bree Barton

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Author Bree Barton, whose book, HEART OF THORNS, is out today, joins us to talk about freedoms, feminism, power, and stories. Hop on over to this link to see Amanda’s review of Bree’s new book. 

 

 

In some ways, we have never enjoyed more freedom. As I write this post, I am sitting in a café drinking crimsonberry tea and wearing short shorts—an outfit that would have seen my grandmother shunned by “polite society.” I went to a good school and got a good job. At thirty-three, I don’t have kids, and no one is pressuring me to. Last year I saved up money and took myself to Iceland for ten days on a book research trip. I never once felt unsafe.

 

In other ways, we are stripped of our freedoms every day.

 

I’ve always been interested in what it means to have a body, especially as a woman. What brings us pleasure? What brings us pain? Who has control over our bodies? I wish the answer to the last question were unequivocally “ourselves,” but we know that isn’t true. Controlling someone else’s body is about power, and historically, that power has belonged to men. The church. The government. Husbands. Doctors. And, most recently: the Supreme Court.

 

But to be perfectly honest, those questions were not at the forefront of my mind three years ago, when I started writing my debut fantasy novel.

 

We’d had a good few years. I canvassed for Obama in 2008, riding the wave of optimism undulating across the country. Sure, the years under the Obama administration weren’t as rosy as they’d appeared on those “YES WE CAN” posters. But they weren’t that bad. Right?

 

Besides, we had Hillary. I watched Hillary Clinton decimate Donald Trump in the debates with tears in my eyes and pride in my heart. We were going to have our first female president. If I did decide to have children someday, they would grow up never questioning that a woman could be in charge.

 

As a cis white woman, I thought about power in an abstract sense, the way a palm tree imagines a blizzard. That’s the thing about privilege: it’s so inherent for those of us who benefit from it, most of the time we don’t even know it’s there. I knew my book would have magic—it was, after all, a fantasy—and magic typically involves an exploration of power. But that was just fiction. It wasn’t real.

 

Then November 2016 happened.

 

Suddenly, I caught a glimpse of what people of color, my LGBTQIA+ friends, and anyone from a marginalized community had known all along: the world was not an equal playing field. The game was rigged. I only got a taste of the reality they faced on a daily basis, but that taste was staggeringly bitter.

 

Though I will never understand their centuries of pain, I began to see the ripple effect of our new president’s policies. I could no longer afford my health insurance. On my last covered trip to the gynecologist, she urged me to consider an IUD. “Just to be safe,” she said. “Since we don’t know what’s going to happen.”

 

Meanwhile, one of my favorite nonprofits closed its doors after 20+ years. My local library had to abbreviate their hours, thanks to budget cuts. Nightmare stories began to pile in—hate crimes, casual racism, threats to deport kids from LA Unified. I did what everyone did: Unfriended bigoted relatives on Facebook. Read all the memes. Cried over the thought pieces. Called my representatives.

 

heart of thornsAnd then I took the draft of my debut novel—and I burned it to the ground.

 

Heart of Thorns didn’t start out as an expressly feminist fantasy. I hope everything I ever write is feminist, but not until the presidential election did the story truly snap into focus.

 

In the first two drafts of HoT, I had a fuzzy concept of an “evil king.” After Trump seized the throne, let’s just say that character emerged in high definition. For the first time I saw King Ronan of Clan Killian for what he was: a hateful tyrant who seals the borders, persecutes people of color, and abuses his bisexual son. A man who not only condones assaulting women, but makes it actual policy.

 

I wrote about the unmitigated reality of the United States: racism, misogyny, xenophobia, hate. Sci-fi and fantasy authors talk a lot about wordbuilding, but for me worldbuilding was a three-prong process: read the news, shudder in horror, then write it into fantasy.

 

As I shredded my draft to ribbons, a new question knit itself together in my brain. What if our bodies evolved to shift the power imbalance? What if the “tables turned” and magic focalized in a woman’s body gave her power over men? How would she use that power? For good, or for evil?

 

I knew in my bones I wanted to create a magical system in which the female body had evolved to right the imbalance of power. In the world of Heart of Thorns, this power is why women are feared and hated…but the more they are feared and hated, the more powerful they become.

 

This is a strange time to be alive. But if there is one thing I’ve learned from the heartbreaking events of the last two years, it’s that we have never needed stories more. Stories allow us to write about the horrors of the present—and they also empower us to write the future we desire.

 

In 2017, I launched Rock ‘n’ Write, a nonprofit dance and writing class for preteen and teen girls. Every week we come together to dance, write, and connect; to move our bodies and open our minds. What I tell my girls is, stories have power. Anyone who tells a story—or crawls inside the ones they read—does possess magic.

 

Today’s culture tries to alienate us, to remind us of the ways we are different. Books remind us of the ways we are the same. We need libraries now more than ever. We need librarians to lead kids to books. We need stories to shine light on every corner of humanity—the bad, the good, the resplendent. This is why we read. Always and forever, we yearn to be drawn into the light.

 

 

Meet Bree Barton

Bree BartonBree Barton is a writer in Los Angeles. When she’s not lost in whimsy, she works as a ghostwriter and dance teacher to teen girls. She is on Instagram and YouTube as Speak Breely, where she posts funny videos of her melancholy dog. Bree is not a fan of corsets.

Book Review: Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton

Publisher’s description

heart of thornsInventive and heart-racing, this fierce feminist teen fantasy from debut author Bree Barton explores a dark kingdom in which only women can possess magic—and every woman is suspected of having it.

Fans of Leigh Bardugo and Laini Taylor won’t want to miss this gorgeously written, bold novel, the first in the Heart of Thorns trilogy.

In the ancient river kingdom, where touch is a battlefield and bodies the instruments of war, Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood. The same women who killed her mother without a single scratch.

But when Mia’s father announces an alliance with the royal family, she is forced to trade in her knives and trousers for a sumptuous silk gown. Determined to forge her own path forward, Mia plots a daring escape, but could never predict the greatest betrayal of all: her own body. Mia possesses the very magic she has sworn to destroy.

Now, as she untangles the secrets of her past, Mia must learn to trust her heart…even if it kills her.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

The prologue to this ARC says, “Once upon a time, in a castle carved of stone, a girl plotted murder.” Talk about immediately roping you in!

 

On the eve of her marriage to Prince Quin, Mia Rose is planning to stage her murder and run away. At 17, Mia has been trained as a huntress, and wants nothing more than to track down the demonic Gwyrach that killed her mother. Mia and her sister Angie, 15, are the daughters of an assassin, the leader of the Gwyrach hunters. The Gwyrach are half god, half human, and literally any girl or woman could be one. They transmit their magic via touch, so all girls are made to wear gloves to protect everyone from potential magic. All girls and women are under suspicion of being a Gwyrach and, as such, have their lives restricted. Mia has spent the past three years studying anatomy, hoping to learn how to protect against the Gwyrach power. She wonders what would happen if one could harness their power for good (instead of using it to enthrall and to wound, as they do now). If the hunters could eliminate magic, then no one could control another person’s body, thus girls would be free and could live full lives of their own choosing. These are all the thoughts Mia is having when she thinks about running away. Things grow even more complicated when she overhears a conversation between Quin and his parents in which they say Mia is dangerous and they speak of allegiances, leverage, and blackmail. All set to flee from her wedding, she is surprised when Quin is shot by an arrow and chaos breaks out at their ceremony. But that surprise is nothing compared to a revelation: while dragging Quin to safety, she somehow manages to heal him completely; Mia is a Gwyrach. Together, Quin and Mia flee the castle, uncertain where they will go, but desperately trying to get away from whoever wants them dead.

 

For me, the story really became good when they find themselves in a land where Mia begins to learn more about the Gwyrach and about her mother (and about herself and about Quin, for that matter). Here, the Gwyrach are acknowledged as creatures of the divine, a sisterhood, as angels and descendants of goddesses. She learns a lot about magic, including why the women are magic and why men are threatened by their power. The story looks at secrets, trust, lies, treachery, safety, traps, feminism, patriarchy, rape, love, hate, anger, dark magic, and betrayal. SO MUCH BETRAYAL. This is the first book in a series and I suspect readers will be anxious to see what happens to Mia and Quin, especially as we end on such a cliffhanger. Mia, who now knows she is a Gwyrach, as was her mother, and has been deeply shocked by a betrayal she couldn’t have seen coming, has many new understandings about her world. It will be interesting to see where her story goes. Full of action and intrigue, this will have wide appeal for fantasy fans. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9780062447685
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/31/2018

YA A to Z: P is for Penultimate, how a competitive writing competition inspired a YA novel

Today for the letter P, guest blogger Cecily Wolfe is joining us to discuss her YA book

The Competition.

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In the spring of 2017, I was asked to chaperone the members of my middle school age daughter’s competitive writing team at the state championship event. The two-hour drive with these young writers, some I had never conversed with before, got me thinking. As a writer myself, most things do, but this was an extraordinary circumstance. I wondered if anyone had written about teens participating in a writing competition, and after a brief search on my phone after arriving and managing to snag a donut and coffee somewhere amidst the controlled chaos (very controlled – after three decades, those running the event know what they are doing), I discovered that none, if they existed, were easily found.

The Competition was born that day, or at least the start of many notes that evolved into the story. Some of my daughter’s teammates were happy to be there, and others weren’t. Both sides told their stories, from their love of writing and storytelling, to the pressure from parents to win, both for the prestige and for the money. The scholarships involved were specific to the host college (it is the same every year) but not enough to cover the tuition, and certainly nowhere near the full, four-year scholarship the characters in the novel aim towards.  What spoke to me most was the emotional aspect of the experience, and my notes, written on the back of handouts left on tables as I waited in the café area of the school building that held the initial assembly that morning, included facts as well as those emotions.

Less than a week later, I accompanied a friend who was visiting a family member in state prison.  Her family’s struggles were the inspiration behind my 2017 YA novel, That Night, and as we talked on the drive down to Richland Correctional, a young girl with an incarcerated brother she adored crept into my thoughts. What if this girl, who was too young to visit her brother without her parents’ permission, was a writer in this competition story that was building in my head? Mary Sofia, determined to rise above her violent family history and be a role model to her younger brothers and sisters, was born that day, and Raiden, Camara, Michael, and Jada not long after.  A longtime friend of one of my daughters who is on the autism spectrum was the inspiration for Julia, with whom I took great care while writing. Julia never says she is autistic, but her behaviors lead her classmates to suspect she is. I also took a chance writing a biracial and a Chinese character, knowing that as a white woman, I am putting myself out there for some criticism. I was wary of stereotypes and asked my daughters’ friends who are from these backgrounds to read what I had written and share their insights, which were invaluable, with me.

What does all this have to do with the letter P?

competition

The Competition is the name of the book, but the actual competition is called The Penultimate. While the influence of the real event held in Ohio every year, called the Power of the Pen, is what started the story growing in my thoughts, the details of the fictional event are different. In The Competition, 100 high school juniors compete for a full scholarship to a prestigious private college worth $200,000. The four main characters as well as the secondary characters have different motivations for participating, but all have made the cuts from district and regional events and have proven themselves as some of the top writers of their age in the state. Some of what happens is inspired by real events: for example, one of my daughter’s teammates was so stressed out because of parental pressure that she vomited after one of the writing rounds, and so do some of the characters in the novel. The overnight stay is entirely fictional, and provided more social time to explore the relationships that build between these four teens who have never met until the day of the competition. With such diverse backgrounds and challenges, how and why would they ever become friends?

Common ground, of course, and as The Competition illustrates, it can exist when you least expect it. Often it isn’t discovered until difficulties arise and you have to work together to overcome them, as these characters find out only hours after meeting each other. Like my first YA novel, this one is about dealing with adversity while holding on to hope and trust, becoming stronger for the challenge, and being emotionally present for others who are facing their own struggles.

About The Competition, which publishes on September 18 in both paperback and electronic editions:

For Mary Sofia, The Penultimate writing competition is more than a chance at a free college education; she wants to show her younger siblings that they can all rise above their violent family history. For Raiden, the pressure to succeed comes from within, although he knows that family traditions play a part in his determination. For Camara, writing fiction is almost compulsive, but her own dark secret may be the best story she can ever tell. For Michael, swimming and writing fit his introverted personality perfectly, but meeting a smart and beautiful girl at The Penultimate makes stepping outside of his comfort zone easy. All four will compete against each other along with 96 other high school juniors for the chance of a lifetime: a full scholarship to a prestigious private college. Some students will do anything to win, but others may pay the price.

Meet Cecily Wolfe

Cecily Wolfe was born and raised in Akron, Ohio. She graduated from Kent State University with degrees in English and library science, and enjoys her career as a librarian in Cleveland. She is the author of That Night, (longlisted for the 2018 In the Margins book award), Reckless Treasure, A Harvest of Stars, and the Cliff Walk Courtships series.

https://www.cecilywolfe.com

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Sunday Reflections: The Reality and the Myth of Just Get a Job and Its Impact on Kids

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This Saturday marked a monumental moment for us in the Jensen household. For the first time in Things 2’s life – and for clarity, she is 9 and 1/2 years old – the Jensen family was able to get up together and have a family breakfast together around our table. The Mr. woke up and made waffles, eggs, bacon, and toast – yum. We then spent the day lounging around our house. We had friends over on Saturday night for a little BBQ and then we sat around and played games.

It was glorious.

Saturday morning breakfast as a family!

Saturday morning breakfast as a family!

This may seem mundane to you, but I have to emphasize an important point: this was the first time in my second child’s lifetime that we are able to have what is considered a boring and typical Saturday afternoon as a family. You see, The Mr. has been stuck working a weekend nights job for the entirety of her life. He spent the weeekend afternoons sleeping so that he could get up again and work from 5 PM to 7 AM. And if you have school age kids, you may understand what it means to have your 2 days off a week be during the regularly week and work every weekend. Here is just a short list of the things my second child has never gotten to do because of work schedules:

Go on a weekend camping trip

Go to a theme park on a Saturday with her entire family (we’ve gone, but I take them while The Mr works/sleeps)

Go with her entire family to a weekend movie, play or sporting event

Go to church with her entire family

Go out to dinner on a weekend evening as a family (sometimes early on he wasn’t so exhausted he could get up and eat lunch with us, but as the years progressed he needed more sleep and we also ate lunch alone)

I have strongly held opinions about work/life balance and work schedules because of the way that The Mr.’s work schedule has negatively affected our life. When he originally took the job that we moved here to Texas for, it was to get off of nights. But soon after we moved they put him on nights and just refused to take him off. Even after he started having extreme health issues. Even after new people were hired. Even after they knew he was looking for a new job. He made the night shift awesome and they rewarded him by never taking him off the night shift, and it hands down sucked for our family.

Look at us, snuggling on the couch and doing nothing on a Saturday!

Look at us, snuggling on the couch and doing nothing on a Saturday!

So look for a new job he did. For over 4 years. He has applied for thousands of jobs. He had a first interview for probably around 100 of those jobs. They always were for significantly less money than he currently made. They almost always told him that he was overqualified. They never resulted in an offer and he kept looking.

I am so excited and happy to announce that one month ago, he finally got a new job! And this weekend, we are laying around as a family doing absolutely nothing. But loving every minute of it. I have missed him. I have missed us. I had forgotten what family feels like.

I’ve been thinking about jobs a lot because I have a lot of librarian friends who are looking for new jobs. The library profession has been changing a lot over the last ten years and I can see that shift in the stories they share about their job searching.

For example, now, very few libraries are hiring YA/Teen librarians. In the early 90s that was a huge push to give dedicated teen services, but that dedication is eroding and teens are being pushed aside and absorbed into either youth or adult services once again. If you have paid attention to the name of this blog, you’ll know I have strong feelings about this. YA librarians are actually some of the most well versed librarians I know because they must work with both youth and adult services in ways that other librarians don’t because we get stuck any and everywhere and our patrons read up and down their age just as frequently.

Many libraries are posting job opportunities for MLS librarians with experience but only offering part-time hours.

Many of these people are going on job interviews and then hearing . . . nothing. They never hear one way or the other, they are just left dangling in the wind.

Like in other fields, there are a lot of applicants for very few jobs and it is very competitive. You’re either under qualified or overqualified. Or you don’t have the exact same set of skills needed for the job, as though potential employers have forgotten how much a librarian has to be a jack of all trades and how most of us can do a lot of things and how those skills can easily transfer to a different skill set.

For the last 4 years, my life has been all about people getting a new job. The Mr. desperately needed a new job because we wanted to be able to do something – anything – on a weekend as a family and because we wanted to put him in a position where we didn’t keep going to the doctor with a variety of bizarre health issues that no one could figure out except that honestly sir, working nights takes a toll on the human body and you should get a new job.

Just get a job. Just get a new job. Just get the right job.

We live in a capitalist society that favors the rich and the corporations, not the people doing the labor that keep those corporations operating on a day to day basis. Many employees today lack benefits, work/life balance, career mobility, livable wages, and more. Yes, even in libraries.

This weekend, my family is celebrating because The Mr got a job that is better for his health and allows him to be home on the weekends with his family during the school year. This means that for the first time ever, we’ll be able to do those things that many people take for granted, like sit around on the couch on a Saturday night and watch a movie with the family.

I am a huge and vocal proponent for a variety of issues because I see the way they impact our kids today, and here I mean kids in the universal sense not just specifically my biological kids. Though I obviously care about my biological kids a lot. Ask any teacher or youth services librarian and we will be able to tell you about how hard it is in today’s world for a family to be a family, for a parent to parent, and the impact it is having on our kids.

And the lack of livable wages, that is devastating to our families. 1 in 5 children goes to bed hungry each night, even in homes where parents are working 2 and 3 part-time jobs.

Remember when we cared about kids and understood that working together to take care of our children helped to ensure us a bright and promising future? I miss those days. We have never been perfect, but we’ve been better. Though there are whole other posts about what it means to grow up as a child in a marginalized group and you should read those. However hard it has been and is for us, a privileged white family, it is so much harder for people of color.

I don’t have a great wrap up for this post. No pithy punchline or searing sentence that sticks the landing. I’m just both grateful and angry for the jobs situation in the United States. I’m personally grateful that The Mr. got a new job and I got to have the type of Saturday I could only dream of for years, and personally angry because I know how hard it was to get to this point and how many other people are still struggling to get there themselves.

I am also not unaware that it can be ripped away from us at any moment. There is a lot of instability in the world of employment today.

We’re supposed to be a great and rich nation full of wealth and opportunity, so why are our families struggling so hard just to barely survive? Maybe that’s the only wrap up I have. We need to do better for one another.

We went to church together as a family this morning!

We went to church together as a family this morning!

Now if you’ll excuse me, we’re off to go to church together as a family.

*Please note, for the purposes here I am referring to a family as any family unit, not just a family with two kids and two parents. Single parents raising their kids are a family. Single people. It doesn’t matter what a family is made of, all families deserve health, wellness, and the opportunity to thrive.

Friday Finds: July 27, 2018

tltbutton3This Week at TLT

New and forthcoming YA and MG to know about

YA A to Z: F is for Female Friendship

Stuck inside the library? 5 Tips for doing a successful outreach event

Post-it Note Reviews of Recent YA Releases

Things Libraries Do That Hurt Libraries and Fail Our Local Communities

Sunday Reflections: Let’s Talk About INSATIABLE, Fat Shaming and Eating Disorders

Around the Web

20 LGBTQIA Books We Wish Would Get TV or Movie Adaptations

7 Surprising Things Librarians Do Other Than Check Out Books

How to read more books legally and for free – a list of alternatives to book pirating

19 of Our Most Anticipated YA Debuts of 2018: July to December

No, Forbes, Libraries Cannot be Replaced by Amazon

New South Bend bookstore promotes diversity, inclusion through literature

 

New and forthcoming YA and MG to know about

tltbutton7Books, books, and more books! My neighbors probably wonder what exactly goes on over here at the house where UPS of FedEx stops nearly every day. All of the books I get end up going back out the door in some fashion—to teen readers I know, to classroom libraries of friends, to my own school, or in giveaways. I can’t read/review every book I get, but it’s fun to be able to sift through boxes and see what grabs my attention, and to see what books will find loving new homes with the right reader. The following are the books that have arrived here in the past few weeks. I will be reviewing many of them in the upcoming months on TLT. See something you’ve already read and need to make sure I don’t skip? Or something you’re super excited to read when it comes out? Let me know with a comment here or on Twitter, where I’m @CiteSomething. All descriptions from the publishers.

where the watermelonsWhere the Watermelons Grow by Cindy Baldwin (ISBN-13: 9780062665867 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 07/03/2018)

Fans of The Thing About Jellyfish and A Snicker of Magic will be swept away by Cindy Baldwin’s debut middle grade about a girl coming to terms with her mother’s mental illness.

When twelve-year-old Della Kelly finds her mother furiously digging black seeds from a watermelon in the middle of the night and talking to people who aren’t there, Della worries that it’s happening again—that the sickness that put her mama in the hospital four years ago is back. That her mama is going to be hospitalized for months like she was last time.

With her daddy struggling to save the farm and her mama in denial about what’s happening, it’s up to Della to heal her mama for good. And she knows just how she’ll do it: with a jar of the Bee Lady’s magic honey, which has mended the wounds and woes of Maryville, North Carolina, for generations.

But when the Bee Lady says that the solution might have less to do with fixing Mama’s brain and more to do with healing her own heart, Della must learn that love means accepting her mama just as she is.

 

 

 

stormwakeStorm-Wake by Lucy Christopher (ISBN-13: 9780545940320 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 07/31/2018)

Moss has grown up on the strangest and most magical of islands. Her father has a plan to control the tempestuous weather that wracks the shores. But the island seems to have a plan of its own once Callan — a wild boy her age — appears on its beaches. Her complex feelings for Callan shift with every tide, while her love for the island, and her father, are thrown into doubt…

And when one fateful day, a young man from the outside world washes up on the beach, speaking of the Old World, nothing will ever be the same.

A dark reflection of Shakespeare’s The TempestStorm-wake is one girl’s voyage of discovery — a mesmerizing tale of magic, faith, and love.

 

 

making friendsMaking Friends by Kristen Gudsnuk (ISBN-13: 9781338139211 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 07/31/2018)

Sixth grade was SO much easier for Danielle. All her friends were in the same room and she knew what to expect from her life. But now that she’s in seventh grade, she’s in a new middle school, her friends are in different classes and forming new cliques, and she is completely lost.

When Danielle inherits a magical sketchbook from her eccentric great aunt Elma, she draws Madison, an ideal best friend that springs to life right off the page! But even when you create a best friend, it’s not easy navigating the ups and downs of relationships, and before long Danielle and Madison are not exactly seeing eye-to-eye.

To make matters worse, Danielle has drawn the head of her favorite (and totally misunderstood) cartoon villain, Prince Neptune. He’s also come to life and is giving her terrible advice about how to make people like her. When she rejects him and he goes on a rampage during a school pep rally, Danielle and Madison have to set aside their differences to stop him!

 

 

lovely dark deepLovely, Dark, and Deep by Justina Chen (ISBN-13: 9781338134063 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 07/31/2018)

“A luminous read that will rekindle your faith in the indomitable human spirit.” — Matthew Quick, author of The Silver Linings Playbook”An inspiring, romantic novel full of redemption and hope.” — Mitali Perkins, author of You Bring the Distant NearWhen Viola Li returns from a trip, she develops a sudden and extreme case of photosensitivity — an inexplicable allergy to sunlight. Thanks to her crisis-manager parents, she doesn’t just have to wear layers of clothes and spaceship-sized hat. She has to avoid all hint of light. Say goodbye to windows and running outdoors. Even her phone becomes a threat.Viola is determined to maintain a normal life, particularly after she meets Josh. He’s a funny, talented Thor look-alike with his own mysterious grief. But their romance makes her take more risks, and when a rebellion against her parents backfires dangerously, she must find her way to a life — and love — as deep and lovely as her dreams.

 

 

a touch of goldA Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan (ISBN-13: 9780310766353 Publisher: Blink Publication date: 08/14/2018)

Gold is wealth. Wealth is power. Power is a curse.

King Midas once had the ability to turn all he touched into gold. But after his gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, Midas relinquished The Touch forever. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her everywhere she goes, and she harbors secret powers that are getting harder to hide.

Kora spends her days locked in the palace, concealed behind gloves and veils, trying to ignore the stares and gossip of courtiers. It isn’t until a charming young duke arrives that Kora realizes there may be someone out there who doesn’t fear her or her curse. But their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals precious items from the kingdom, leaving the treasury depleted and King Midas vulnerable. Thanks to her unique ability to sense gold, Kora is the only one who can track the thief down. As she sails off on her quest, Kora learns that not everything is what it seems—not thieves, not pirates, and not even curses. She quickly discovers that gold—and the power it brings—is more dangerous than she’d ever believed.

Midas learned his lesson at a price. What will Kora’s journey cost?

From author Annie Sullivan comes A Touch of Gold, the untold story of the daughter King Midas turned to gold, perfect for fans of Cinder and The Wrath and the Dawn.

 

 

meet the skyMeet the Sky by McCall Hoyle (ISBN-13: 9780310765707 Publisher: Blink Publication date: 09/04/2018)

From award-winning author McCall Hoyle comes a new young adult novel, Meet the Sky, a story of love, letting go, and the unstoppable power of nature.

It all started with the accident. The one that caused Sophie’s dad to walk out of her life. The one that left Sophie’s older sister, Meredith, barely able to walk at all.

With nothing but pain in her past, all Sophie wants is to plan for the future—keep the family business running, get accepted to veterinary school, and protect her mom and sister from another disaster. But when a hurricane forms off the coast of North Carolina’s Outer Banks and heads right toward their island, Sophie realizes nature is one thing she can’t control.

After she gets separated from her family during the evacuation, Sophie finds herself trapped on the island with the last person she’d have chosen—the reckless and wild Finn Sanders, who broke her heart freshman year. As they struggle to find safety, Sophie learns that Finn has suffered his own heartbreak; but instead of playing it safe, Finn’s become the kind of guy who goes surfing in the eye of the hurricane. He may be the perfect person to remind Sophie how to embrace life again, but only if their newfound friendship can survive the storm.

 

 

born scaredBorn Scared by Kevin Brooks (ISBN-13: 9780763695651 Publisher: Candlewick Press Publication date: 09/11/2018)

Elliot has lived his first thirteen years confined to his home, incapacitated by fear. Now he’s out of pills, snow is falling, and his only safe person is missing. A terrifying thriller from Carnegie Medalist Kevin Brooks.

From the moment of his birth, Elliot’s life has been governed by fear of almost everything, even of his own fear — a beast that holds him prisoner in his room. The beast is kept at bay, though not eliminated, with a daily regimen of pills. But on Christmas Eve, a mix-up at the pharmacy threatens to unleash the beast full force, and his mother must venture out in a raging snowstorm to a store that should be only minutes away. Hours later, when she still hasn’t returned, Elliot sees no choice but to push through his terror, leave the house, and hunt for her. What happens if the last of his medication wears off and the beast starts scratching at the doors of his mind? Everyone has a breaking point — will Elliot come to his? With plot twists and turns that keep readers on the edge of their seats, multi-award-winning author Kevin Brooks offers a high-suspense exploration of fear and what it means to truly be afraid.

 

 

 

i do notI Do Not Trust You: A Novel by Laura J. Burns, Melinda Metz (ISBN-13: 9781250052308 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Publication date: 09/11/2018)
With Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz’s signature plot twists, and uneasy, ever-changing alliances, I Do Not Trust You is a thrilling journey at every turn that asks—what would you do to save the ones you love?

Memphis “M” Engel is stubborn to a fault, graced with an almost absurd knowledge of long lost languages and cultures, and a heck of an opponent in a fight. In short: she’s awesome.

Ashwin “Ash” Sood is a little too posh for M’s tastes, a little too good looking, and has way too many secrets. He desperately wants the ancient map M inherited from her archeologist father, believing it will lead him to a relic with the power to destroy the world. M obviously can’t trust him.

Equally desperate to find the relic for reasons of her own, M forms an uneasy partnership with Ash. From the catacombs of Paris, to a sacred forest in Norway, to the ruins of a submerged temple in Egypt, together they crisscross the globe in their search. But through it all, M can never be sure: Is she traveling with a friend or enemy?

 

 

impostersImpostors by Scott Westerfeld (ISBN-13: 9781338151510 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 09/11/2018)

Frey and Rafi are inseparable . . . two edges of the same knife. But Frey’s very existence is a secret.

Frey is Rafi’s twin sister—and her body double. Their powerful father has many enemies, and the world has grown dangerous as the old order falls apart. So while Rafi was raised to be the perfect daughter, Frey has been taught to kill. Her only purpose is to protect her sister, to sacrifice herself for Rafi if she must.

When her father sends Frey in Rafi’s place as collateral in a precarious deal, she becomes the perfect impostor—as poised and charming as her sister. But Col, the son of a rival leader, is getting close enough to spot the killer inside her. As the deal starts to crumble, Frey must decide if she can trust him with the truth . . . and if she can risk becoming her own person.

With Impostors, master storyteller Scott Westerfeld returns with a new series set in the world of his mega-bestselling Uglies—a world full of twist and turns, rebellion and intrigue, where any wrong step could be Frey’s last.

 

 

damselDamsel by Elana K. Arnold (ISBN-13: 9780062742322 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 10/02/2018)

A dark, twisted, unforgettable fairy tale from Elana K. Arnold, author of the National Book Award finalist What Girls Are Made Of

The rite has existed for as long as anyone can remember: When the king dies, his son the prince must venture out into the gray lands, slay a fierce dragon, and rescue a damsel to be his bride. This is the way things have always been.

When Ama wakes in the arms of Prince Emory, she knows none of this. She has no memory of what came before she was captured by the dragon or what horrors she faced in its lair. She knows only this handsome young man, the story he tells of her rescue, and her destiny of sitting on a throne beside him. It’s all like a dream, like something from a fairy tale.

As Ama follows Emory to the kingdom of Harding, however, she discovers that not all is as it seems. There is more to the legends of the dragons and the damsels than anyone knows, and the greatest threats may not be behind her, but around her, now, and closing in.

 

hearts unHearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith (ISBN-13: 9780763681142 Publisher: Candlewick Press Publication date: 10/09/2018)

New York Times best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith turns to realistic fiction with the thoughtful story of a Native teen navigating the complicated, confusing waters of high school — and first love.

When Louise Wolfe’s first real boyfriend mocks and disrespects Native people in front of her, she breaks things off and dumps him over e-mail. It’s her senior year, anyway, and she’d rather spend her time with her family and friends and working on the school newspaper. The editors pair her up with Joey Kairouz, the ambitious new photojournalist, and in no time the paper’s staff find themselves with a major story to cover: the school musical director’s inclusive approach to casting The Wizard of Oz has been provoking backlash in their mostly white, middle-class Kansas town. From the newly formed Parents Against Revisionist Theater to anonymous threats, long-held prejudices are being laid bare and hostilities are spreading against teachers, parents, and students — especially the cast members at the center of the controversy, including Lou’s little brother, who’s playing the Tin Man. As tensions mount at school, so does a romance between Lou and Joey — but as she’s learned, “dating while Native” can be difficult. In trying to protect her own heart, will Lou break Joey’s?

 

lost soulLost Soul, Be at Peace by Maggie Thrash (ISBN-13: 9780763694197 Publisher: Candlewick Press Publication date: 10/09/2018)

Following her acclaimed Honor Girl, Maggie Thrash revisits a period of teenage depression in a graphic memoir that is at once thoughtful, honest, and marked by hope.

A year and a half after the summer that changed her life, Maggie Thrash wishes she could change it all back. She’s trapped in a dark depression and flunking eleventh grade, befuddling her patrician mother while going unnoticed by her father, a workaholic federal judge. The only thing Maggie cares about is her cat, Tommi . . . who then disappears somewhere in the walls of her cavernous house. So her search begins — but Maggie’s not even really sure what she’s lost, and she has no idea what she’ll find. Lost Soul, Be at Peace is the continuation of Maggie’s story from her critically acclaimed memoir Honor Girl, one that brings her devastating honesty and humor to the before and after of depression.

 

selfie madeSelfie Made: Your Ultimate Guide to Social Media Stardom by Meridith Valiando Rojas (ISBN-13: 9781250196743 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Publication date: 10/16/2018)

HOW DO I MAKE IT BIG ON SOCIAL MEDIA? WHAT IS MY STORY—AND WHO IS MY AUDIENCE? WHAT CONTENT SHOULD I POST TO ACHIEVE #SUCCESS? HOW DO I GO VIRAL…OR HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE ME TO GET NOTICED?

Selfie Made is a one-of-a-kind guide to creating a digital identity, finding an audience, and building a powerful brand—your own!—on the Internet. Whether you want to be in front of or behind the camera, produce click-worthy content or start your own business, this book is the place to begin. Written by Meridith Valiando Rojas, the hugely successful (and super friendly IRL) founder of DigiTour who has worked with every major star from YouTube to Musical.ly, this collection of personal anecdotes and professional advice, tricks of the trade and behind-the-screen secrets, will give you everything you need for your social media toolkit.

Here, you’ll get to know the true stories behind some of today’s most successful multimedia stars and influencers, including:

Max And Harvey – Loren Gray – Blake Gray – Danielle Cohn

HRVY – Lauren Godwin – Nathan Triska

Trevor Moran – Messy Monday – Simon Britton

…and others who learned the ropes, beat the odds, and took social media by storm. And so can you!

 

 

 

gilded wolvesThe Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi (ISBN-13: 9781250144546 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Publication date: 01/15/2019)

Set in a darkly glamorous world The Gilded Wolves is full of mystery, decadence and dangerous but thrilling adventure.

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance. To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts:

An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

 

 

enchanteeEnchantée by Gita Trelease (ISBN-13: 9781250295521 Publisher: Flatiron Books Publication date: 02/05/2019)

Love. Magic. Revolution.

Paris is a labryinth of twisted streets filled with beggars and thieves, revolutionaries and magicians. Camille Durbonne is one of them. She wishes she weren’t…

When smallpox kills her parents, Camille must find a way to provide for her younger sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on magic, Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille pursues a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

Using dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into a baroness and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for magic. As she struggles to reconcile her resentment of the rich with the allure of glamour and excess, Camille meets a handsome younge inventor, and begins to believe that love and liberty may both be possible.

But magic has its costs, and soon Camille loses control of her secrets. And when revolution erupts, Camille must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, reality of magic—before Paris burns.

 

dysastersThe Dysasters by P. C. Cast, Kristin Cast (ISBN-13: 9781250141040 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Publication date: 02/26/2019)

#1 New York Times bestselling authors P.C. and Kristin Cast are back with a stunning brand-new YA paranormal series!

House of Night meets X-Men in this exciting new series from #1 New York Times mother/daughter writing duo, P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast.

Foster Stewart knows she’s different. Her life has never been “normal.” Talking to plants and controlling cloud formations aren’t things most seventeen year olds are into. Tate “Nighthawk” Taylor is perfect. Star quarterback and all around dreamy boy next door he never thought about his “extra” abilities. What quarterback wouldn’t want night vision? That’s not weird, right? It’s cool!

But on the night of their first meeting a deadly tornado brings them together and awakens their true abilities – the power to control the element air. Unbeknown to Tate and Foster, they are the first in a group of teens that were genetically manipulated before birth to bond with the elements. Which truly sucks for Foster, as she has to face the fact that Dr. Rick Stewart, her beloved scientist father, betrayed her and now wants to use her and the others for his own nefarious world domination plot.

Foster and Tate must stop Dr. Stewart and his minions before he destroys their lives and the world. In this new superhero multiverse the Cast duo again combine real world teens and an adventure filled with danger, romance, and superpowers that will thrill House of Night fans looking for their next action packed fix.

 

we toldWe Told Six Lies by Victoria Scott (ISBN-13: 9781640634220 Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC Publication date: 03/05/2019)

Remember how many lies we told, Molly? It’s enough to make my head spin. You were wild when I met you, and I was mad for you. But then something happened. And now you’re gone.

But don’t worry. I’ll find you. I just need to sift through the story of us to get to where you might be. I’ve got places to look, and a list of names.

The police have a list of names, too. See now? There’s another lie. There is only one person they’re really looking at, Molly.

And that’s yours truly.

 

 

 

you'd be mineYou’d Be Mine: A Novel by Erin Hahn (ISBN-13: 9781250192882 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Publication date: 04/02/2019)

A whip smart teen romance debut inspired by Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash from a bright new voice 

Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things.

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.

Erin Hahn’s thrilling debut, You’d Be Mine, asks: can the right song and the perfect summer on the road make two broken hearts whole?

 

 

 

YA A to Z: F is for Female Friendship

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I am very honored to be the “Second Mom” to The Teen’s best friend, who we call The Bestie here at TLT. I have known this girl since she was in the 3rd grade and I truly consider her to be a part of my family. When I travel, I text her and keep in touch with her just as I do the two girls that I have given birth to. I feel very blessed to have her as an honorary family member and I love seeing her friendship with my daughter. As someone who moved a lot – hello, military brat – I never really got to have the type of BFFs that you read about in books. I am so delighted to see my daughter have one of her own and am proud to see the women they are becoming separately and together. Because of all of this, one of the things I always notice when reading YA is the best friend quotient. I like to give them both books that highlight besties and realistically portray the ups and downs of female friendship. My hope is that it will help them to develop realistic expectations and remind them that even in the moments where their friendship is tried and tested, as all friendships are, that they will make the choice and do the work of maintaining and nurturing their friendship. I’ve posted some of my favorite female friendship books before, and you can read that post here, but I’ve read some new ones to add to the list so keep reading.

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The Teen and The Bestie

Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian

stay sweetPublisher’s Book Description

Summer in Sand Lake isn’t complete without a trip to Meade Creamery—the local ice cream stand founded in 1944 by Molly Meade who started making ice cream to cheer up her lovesick girlfriends while all the boys were away at war. Since then, the stand has been owned and managed exclusively by local girls, who inevitably become the best of friends. Seventeen-year-old Amelia and her best friend Cate have worked at the stand every summer for the past three years, and Amelia is “Head Girl” at the stand this summer. When Molly passes away before Amelia even has her first day in charge, Amelia isn’t sure that the stand can go on. That is, until Molly’s grandnephew Grady arrives and asks Amelia to stay on to help continue the business…but Grady’s got some changes in mind…

Karen’s Thoughts

This summer I had the honor of having The Teen volunteer with me at my library, which meant every day we drove back and forth from work together and listened to audio books. One of our favorites was Stay Sweet. I loved listening to this book with The Teen for a wide variety of reasons. It is no exaggeration when I tell you that we laughed and we cried together listening to this book. There are some very moving and emotional scenes and we balled. There may have been snottage.

One of my favorite things about this book was how much it emphasized the power and importance of female friendship. From the very beginning we step foot into this world where there is a strong emphasis put on empowering women and that stream of thought is never lost. Even when our main character’s friendship is put to the test and strained, as most friendships will be, the significance of and dedication to one another remains powerful.

As you may recall, The Teen and The Bestie often help me out a lot here at TLT and I take them to a lot of book events. When we finished this book I immediately thought, we need to make sure you both have a copy of this book to remind you of what being a best friend can look like as you make the transition from graduating high school. This goes right into both of their collections.

This book is moving, thoughtful, and a powerful story that reminds girls that they can learn, grow, be empowered and achieve their dreams. Sharing this book and this summer with The Teen will always have very deep and lasting meaning for me, and I hope The Bestie will love it as well.

Don't fear - The Teen isn't trying to kill The Bestie, they're just making a movie together

Don’t fear – The Teen isn’t trying to kill The Bestie, they’re just making a movie together

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

sawkillgirls

Publisher’s Book Description:

Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.

He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.

Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.

Karen’s Thoughts:

This may in some ways be a weird book to include on a list like this. After all, it’s a dark paranormal mystery where a lot of girls die. It is also, however, the story of two girls who become friends and try to help each other solve the mystery of what it happening to the Sawkill Girls and how they can save themselves and each other from being the next one. This is a very compelling read with a lot of feminist undertones; it seriously makes some bold declarations about what it means to be a girl in this world. I think Sawkill Girls will be a phenomenal success when it comes out in October of this year.

The Teen and The Bestie looking at ARCs for an ARCParty here at TLT

The Teen and The Bestie looking at ARCs for an ARCParty here at TLT

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E K Johnston

exit-pursued

Publisher’s Book Description:

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of… she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

Karen’s Thoughts:

I love this book and it is one of my favorites because of the way the two best friends deal with the sexual assault of one half of their duo. Johnston describes this book as a fantasy because it is the way she wishes we handled sexual assault compared to the ways in which we do. When Hermione is assaulted her best friend stands by her and up for her and it is glorious. In your moments of darkest need, everyone needs a best friend like this.

The Bestie is a cheerleader and we try to watch her cheer as often as we can because she's part of the family and we support her always

The Bestie is a cheerleader and we try to watch her cheer as often as we can because she’s part of the family and we support her always

The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw

wickeddeep

Publisher’s Book Description:

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

Karen’s Thoughts:

This is one of the teens favorite books of this year. It’s another dark paranormal – what can I say, we have a type – that also has a strong friendship tucked inside the pages. Also, there are witches! Friendship, romance, witches and local legends make for a pretty enthralling read.

The Teen and The Bestie making a "classic" portrait at an art museum installation

The Teen and The Bestie making a “classic” portrait at an art museum installation

The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed

nowheregirls

Publisher’s Book Description

Three misfits come together to avenge the rape of a fellow classmate and in the process trigger a change in the misogynist culture at their high school transforming the lives of everyone around them in this searing and timely story.

Who are the Nowhere Girls?

They’re everygirl. But they start with just three:

Grace Salter is the new girl in town, whose family was run out of their former community after her southern Baptist preacher mom turned into a radical liberal after falling off a horse and bumping her head.

Rosina Suarez is the queer punk girl in a conservative Mexican immigrant family, who dreams of a life playing music instead of babysitting her gaggle of cousins and waitressing at her uncle’s restaurant.

Erin Delillo is obsessed with two things: marine biology and Star Trek: The Next Generation, but they aren’t enough to distract her from her suspicion that she may in fact be an android.

When Grace learns that Lucy Moynihan, the former occupant of her new home, was run out of town for having accused the popular guys at school of gang rape, she’s incensed that Lucy never had justice. For their own personal reasons, Rosina and Erin feel equally deeply about Lucy’s tragedy, so they form an anonymous group of girls at Prescott High to resist the sexist culture at their school, which includes boycotting sex of any kind with the male students.

Told in alternating perspectives, this groundbreaking novel is an indictment of rape culture and explores with bold honesty the deepest questions about teen girls and sexuality.

Karen’s Thoughts

This is another meaningful contemporary that explores themes of sexual assault and teenage sexuality while giving us some strong female friendships. Here, a group of girls come together and fight the system while exploring who they are and trying to stand up for what they think is right. It’s powerfully, hand down, pull no punches feminism and it rocks! Also, there are a lot of intersectional friendships that happen here and it’s great to have some strong female friendships that are intersectional.

bestie2

The Bestie came and supported The Teen as she participates in a national martial arts tournament. They are interested in very different things but support each other!

What YALit with a strong female friendship would you add to our list? Let us know in the comments below. The Teen and The Bestie may want to read them!

Stuck inside the library? 5 Tips for doing a successful outreach event

If your library is like most libraries, then you probably do a really great job of doing internal marketing but are less successful at external marketing. Your stuck inside the library and need to find a way to take your message out into the community. This has been one of the greatest challenges for most libraries I know, except for the big ones that have dedicated staff and budgets. Getting outside of the library and raising your public profile can really help your local community get to know and understand what the library is and the value it adds to your local community. So let’s do outreach!

Summer is an intense time of outreach for me as the town I work in hosts a monthly event called First Fridays. The First Friday of every month from May through October, I take my set up and go downtown and help promote the library. Over the years, I have perfected the set up and want to share some tips with you. This has been a very successful source of marketing for our library, though it hasn’t always been without a few bumps in the road.

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Size Really Does Matter

Whatever type of outreach you’ll do, you will need to take stuff with you. What you take and how you take it matters. Wheels, for example, are your friend. Size is also an important consideration. You’re going to have to take everything you need and load and unload it a couple of times. Don’t bite off more than you can chew because size really does matter.

You want to put together for yourself as compact a set up as possible because you are going to have to load in and loud out. Ideally you’ll want a table, a chair for each staff member, and signage. We’ll talk signage more in a moment. You want the things you take and have to set up to be light, easy to carry, quick to fold up, etc. Some people have things like tents with their library logo on them, great for hot days and in case of rain, but not fun to carry in and out and set up.

outreachtable

You’ll always want to pay attention to any requirements that the outreach event itself sends you. Some of them have very specific things they want you to do or bring. When you sign up for an outreach event, they should send you information about what they provide and what they expect you to bring and do. For example, they may give you very specific table sizes. Pay attention to and honor that information.

At a minimum you will want: a small, folding table; folding chairs for each staff member; signage; something to hand out. People at outreach events like to walk away with something in their hand or to have done something fun.

For the chairs, I recommend those collapsible chairs with a bag and a handle that you see people take to sporting events and parades. They are usually light and the bags with straps make them easy to carry. You see in the picture above that we originally took folding chairs – don’t do this. These are cumbersome to carry. Learn from my mistakes, which is actually one of the tips below.

ALWAYS HAVE WATER FOR STAFF.

At the end of the day, it will be on the shoulders of staff to do outreach events. So keep that in mind when you are thinking about what you are going to do, what tools you are going to use, and how many staff you are going to send. Plan accordingly.

Bigger is Not Always Better: Your Goal is Effective Marketing, Not Necessarily Big

Over the years we have really paid attention to what other organizations at the event are doing and we have seen a variety of carts, wagons, etc. to help get items into and out of the event. We tried using library carts, because we had them on hand. This was no ideal and I don’t recommend it. We ended up buying a collapsible wagon that we can use to load our items into the event. The more events you do, the better you will find out what works for you and you will refine your tools.

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My co-worker is really good at paying attention to what other people are doing and is always asking me to look at this or consider that. We used to try to do and take more, but things like heavy winds or intense heat really helped us refine what it is we were willing and able to do. We started out with the grandest of plans and we have whittled it down to reasonable expectations. We live in a world with the mantra that says bigger is better, but this mantra forgets to tell you that sometimes an outreach event is late on a Friday night after a long days work in the month of July in the midst of record heatwaves. Meet your goals, promote your library, and take care of yourself and your staff. Bigger is not always better, your goal is effective, not big.

But I’m not just talking about physical size when I say bigger doesn’t always have to be better. I’m talking about the scope of your event as well. You don’t need to hand out 300 flyers promoting every single program or take a million items to hand out. Remember, you have to get everything into your event. For example, this year for our summer reading promotion would put very basic information onto one postcard for all 3 of our age group programs and handed out one postcard with a website where they could find additional information instead of handing out 3 different flyers for 3 different programs. A lot of people will be handing out paper and a lot of it will end up in the trash – or, unfortunately, blowing around the event itself as people litter – so consider how you hand out information, what will make an impact, and what will actually get used as opposed to discarded. Pens, bags, cups with logos, for example, make a better impact than a piece of paper with information. That paper is going to end up in the trash.

Who Are You? Signage is Your Friend

You’re there to get noticed and promote the library, so you’ll want to make sure you have good signage. In this one instance, bigger is in fact better. I know, I just contradicted myself. However, some people will not walk up to your table and you still want them to know you were there. Try to put your library’s name out there in as many ways as possible and make sure people can see it from a distance.

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In the past we have used table covers, which I have liked a lot. This year we added a pop-up banner which is my new favorite thing. I designed ours which we purchased online from Totally Promotional for only about $130 and it really increases our visibility. I will say that the only drawback is that this is an outside event and we have had a couple of windy days which caused our signage to bend and twist in the wind. We now have cables and we can firmly attach our signage to a nearby post. It’s easily collapsible, folds up into a portable size and came with its own carrying case. A lot of people have walked up to us simply to look at the sign and then a conversation begins. I adore our sign.

All By Myself: Staffing is Important

I typically do an event with the help of one co-worker and we have it down to a science. I have also had teen volunteers help out, which brought us up to four people. Yes, sometimes my family members come and “volunteer” to help out. It’s nice to have enthusiastic people who are willing and able to interact with the people who stop by your table and booth and answer any questions. That’s why you’re there, to get the word out.

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I once had the extreme misfortune of having to do an event by myself and it was a miserable experience and I do not recommend this at all. Two is doable, three or four is ideal. In the future if I am the only one available to do an event, it will be a hard pass for me. Setting up by myself was hard, wanting to use the restroom and having no one to break you was harder, and it felt like it was more frustrating for the people stopping by the booth. The last thing we want is to go to an event to promote the library and then have potential patrons walk away frustrated because they had to wait too long or didn’t get their questions answered.

I once worked at a library system where every staff member had to sign up to do 2 outside outreach events in a calendar year and it was a part of their yearly performance evaluations. When an event came up the coordinator would send out and email asking for x number of volunteers. At the end of the year you wanted to make sure that you had done 2 or else you would be dinged on your evaluation. There are pros and cons to this model. For example, you sometimes get staff being forced to do outreach events which does not play to their strengths. The positives, however, are that you aren’t always asking the same people to do work outside of normal library hours, in sometimes hot conditions, and without a lot of good staff support. I like the idea of having a bigger pool of staff to help out, I do not like the idea of having disgruntled staff who don’t want to be there begrudgingly helping out.

Remember: People Like Free Stuff so You’ll Want to Have Something to Do or Handout

Because we are there specifically promoting our Teen MakerSpace, we often try to have a hands on activity. Making buttons, for example, is fast, easy, and fun. Plus, the teens walk away with something tangible. I have found that one of the quickest ways to do this is to have a bunch of pre-cut circules and stickers that the teens can use to make their buttons. There are, however, some drawbacks to having a hands on activity. For one, it seems like everyone comes at once and you can get some long lines built up. Also, if you are at an outside event, strong winds can become an issue.

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Stickers work well if you want to make quick buttons

I recently joined a button making community and a lot of its members make buttons to sell and they often discuss packaging. It is in this community that I got the idea to take pre-made buttons that are attached to a postcard made out of card stock to hand out. There were many benefits to this model, which I really found to be quite successful. One, I had a variety of designs so it allowed teens to pick out their favorites. Two, I made sure each button was book or reading related to promote the idea of reading and in hopes that when teens saw the buttons, they would think of the library. Three, on our postcard I made sure and highlight the library itself so even if I didn’t get to talk to a teen as they picked out a button, they still had some basic information.

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Taking the pre-made buttons required a lot of additional prep work, as I had to design the postcards and several staff members helped me make the buttons, print the postcards and attach the buttons to the postcard. But I really liked the visual and the information the teens walked away with.

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We also have drawstring backpacks with our Teen MakerSpace logo and library name on them that we hand out. We pre-stuff the backpacks with any flyers for upcoming events and a brochure about the Teen MakerSpace itself. I love seeing the teens walking around wearing their backpacks and the additional promotion we get from the visual. Not all of my coworkers, however, like it because we don’t order a large number so we try to hand them out only to the teens and even though we have signage which clearly says the backpacks are for teens, it can be hard telling young children or adults that no, we’re sorry, the backpacks are for teens but here, have a button!

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Bonus Tip: Have a Planning Checklist

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Over time, we have perfected our basic outreach scenario and we have put together a planning checklist to help us make sure that we have all of our items packed up and ready to go before we head out the door. A majority of the items I actually keep packaged together in my office, like our table coverings and signage. But I’ll have to go to another part of the library to get our tables and chairs because they aren’t stored in my office. My checklist includes a listing of the concrete items we’ll need, including a reminder to take water for staff. Staying hydrated is important. It also includes space for us to write in items we may need based on what activity we are doing. Looking at the planning checklist a couple of days before the event helps me make sure that I have every thing I need the day off and eliminates some of the stress and worry that can come with an outreach event.

I do have to say that recently I saw several libraries had done storytimes at local Pride events and I loved this idea. I don’t do a lot of storytimes because my target audience is teens, but I think it would be cool to have storytimes at outreach events. Because First Fridays is a music and arts festival there is always a band playing music, so storytimes may not be right for this event, but I think libraries should definitely consider adding them to outreach events if they work for the event.

Each time we do an outreach event, we have new people come into the Teen MakerSpace. If you aren’t already doing outreach events, I highly suggest that you consider it because it is a powerful marketing tool.

More Outreach Posts on TLT

MakerSpace: Outreach Activity – Book Face

Teen Coloring Postcards: Outreach

Building Our Portable Photo Booth – Outreach

Post-it Note Reviews of Recent YA Releases

IMG_3631Ah, summer. Three months off of work is great. It’s so nice to have all this extra time to write, read, blog, clean, run errands, parent, sometimes socialize, pet my dogs, and so on. I’m getting a lot of reading done, but not all of my reading spots/times are conducive to really thoughtful analysis or even casual note-taking. Maybe I’m at the waterpark, reading in the shade, but half keeping an eye on my kid (he’s 12—I can get away with only half keeping one eye on him most days), being interrupted a ton. Or maybe I’m reading in my own house, but while covered in sleeping dachshunds, or while trying to block out the noise of kids playing. I still want to share these books with you, so here are my tiny Post-it Note reviews of a few titles. I do these posts monthly during the school year, focusing on books for younger readers. It’s a great way to display books in your library or classroom, a way to let kids recommend their favorite titles without having to get up in front of everyone and do a book talk, and an easy way to offer a more personal recommendation than just the flap copy offers. (To see my June version of this post, hop on over here.)

All summaries are from the publishers.

 

 

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Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

Cosplay, comic shops, and college applications collide in this illustrated novel, perfect for fans of Adam Silvera and Noelle Steveson!

Cameron’s cosplay creations are finally starting to earn her attention–attention she hopes to use to get into the CalArts costume design department for college. But after she wins a major competition, she inadvertently sets off a firestorm of angry comments from male fans online.

When Cameron’s family moves the summer before her senior year, she hopes to complete her costume portfolio in peace and quiet away from the abuse.

Unfortunately, the only comic shop in town–her main destination for character reference–is staffed by a dudebro owner who challenges every woman who comes into the shop.

At her twin brother’s suggestion, Cameron borrows a set of his clothes and uses her costuming expertise to waltz into the shop as Boy Cameron, where she’s shocked at how easily she’s accepted into the nerd inner sanctum. Soon, Cameron finds herself drafted into a D&D campaign alongside the jerky shop-owner Brody, friendly (almost flirtatiously so) clerk Wyatt, handsome Lincoln, and her brother Cooper, dragged along for good measure.

But as her “secret identity” gets more and more entrenched, Cameron’s portfolio falls by the wayside–and her feelings for Lincoln threaten to make a complicated situation even more precarious in this geek girl anthem from You’re Welcome, Universe author Whitney Gardner, complete with fully illustrated comic pages inked by Gardner herself.

 

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All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages by Saundra Mitchell

Take a journey through time and genres to discover stories where queer teens live, love and shape the world around them.

Seventeen young adult authors across the queer spectrum have come together to create a collection of beautifully written diverse historical fiction for teens.

From a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood set in war-torn 1870s Mexico featuring a transgender soldier, to two girls falling in love while mourning the death of Kurt Cobain, forbidden love in a sixteenth-century Spanish convent or an asexual girl discovering her identity amid the 1970s roller-disco scene, All Out tells a diverse range of stories across cultures, time periods and identities, shedding light on an area of history often ignored or forgotten.

Featuring original stories from:

Malinda Lo
Mackenzi Lee
Robin Talley
Kody Keplinger
Elliot Wake
Anna-Marie McLemore
Shaun David Hutchinson
Dahlia Adler
Tess Sharpe
Kate Scelsa
Natalie C. Parker
Sara Farizan
Nilah Magruder
Tessa Gratton
Tehlor Kay Mejia
Alex Sanchez
Scott Tracey

 

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The Place Between Breaths by An Na

From master storyteller and Printz Award–winning author An Na comes a dark, intensely moving story of a girl hell-bent on finding a cure for the illness that swept her mother away, and could possibly destroy her own life as well.

Sixteen-year-old Grace is in a race against time—and in a race for her life—even if she doesn’t realize it yet…

She is smart, responsible, and contending with more than what most teens ever have to. Her mother struggled with schizophrenia for years until, one day, she simply disappeared—fleeing in fear that she was going to hurt herself or those she cared about. Ever since, Grace’s father has worked as a recruiter at one of the leading labs dedicated to studying the disease, trying to lure the world’s top scientists to the faculty to find a cure, hoping against hope it can happen in time to help his wife if she is ever found. But this makes him distant. Consumed.

Grace, in turn, does her part, interning at the lab in the gene sequencing department in hopes that one day they might make a breakthrough…and one day they do. Grace stumbles upon a string of code that could be the key. But something inside of Grace has started to unravel. Could her discovery just be a cruel side effect of the schizophrenia finally taking hold? Can she even tell the difference between what is real and what isn’t?

With unerring accuracy, An Na has created a mesmerizing story with twists and turns that reveal jaw-dropping insights into the mind of someone struggling with schizophrenia.

 

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Anger Is a Gift by Mark Oshiro
Moss Jeffries is many things—considerate student, devoted son, loyal friend and affectionate boyfriend, enthusiastic nerd.

But sometimes Moss still wishes he could be someone else—someone without panic attacks, someone whose father was still alive, someone who hadn’t become a rallying point for a community because of one horrible night.

And most of all, he wishes he didn’t feel so stuck.

Moss can’t even escape at school—he and his friends are subject to the lack of funds and crumbling infrastructure at West Oakland High, as well as constant intimidation by the resource officer stationed in their halls. That was even before the new regulations—it seems sometimes that the students are treated more like criminals.

Something will have to change—but who will listen to a group of teens?

When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes again, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.

 

 

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Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson, Emily Carroll

The critically acclaimed, award-winning, modern classic Speak is now a stunning graphic novel.

“Speak up for yourself—we want to know what you have to say.” From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless—an outcast—because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. Through her work on an art project, she is finally able to face what really happened that night: She was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. With powerful illustrations by Emily Carroll, Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak: The Graphic Novel comes alive for new audiences and fans of the classic novel.

 

 

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Lovely, Dark, and Deep by Justina Chen

When Viola Li returns from a trip, she develops a sudden and extreme case of photosensitivity — an inexplicable allergy to sunlight. Thanks to her crisis-manager parents, she doesn’t just have to wear layers of clothes and spaceship-sized hat. She has to avoid all hint of light. Say goodbye to windows and running outdoors. Even her phone becomes a threat.Viola is determined to maintain a normal life, particularly after she meets Josh. He’s a funny, talented Thor look-alike with his own mysterious grief. But their romance makes her take more risks, and when a rebellion against her parents backfires dangerously, she must find her way to a life — and love — as deep and lovely as her dreams.

Things Libraries Do That Hurt Libraries and Fail Our Local Communities

Yesterday, Twitter erupted when an article was shared by Forbes magazine that suggested that Amazon bookstores should replace libraries to save taxpayers money. This is, of course, an absurd argument because the two entities have entirely different methods and goals. Amazon wants to make money and libraries are a non-profit that want to support their local communities. I won’t get into the arguments against this proposal here because it is being discussed at length on Twitter, and pretty well. (You can read the article and not give them clicks by using this Do Not Link URL: https://donotlink.it/lRL7)

The Teen, learning how to make new stuff at the public library.

The Teen, learning how to make new stuff at the public library. Providing programming, information resources and an opportunity to come spend time in a safe space is just one of the many things a public library offers.

At the same time that this is happening, I have been reading for a few weeks now about libraries in the UK where staff are being let go and entire libraries are being “staffed” by volunteers. That’s right, these libraries are being completely run by unpaid volunteers.

Experienced staff work on cultivating well-rounded collections to meet a variety of need in the local community.

Experienced staff work on cultivating well-rounded collections to meet a variety of need in the local community.

Both of these trends occur because of our increasing desire to move away from paying taxes. Nobody has ever liked paying taxes, but we used to agree that there was some community good that came from our taxes so we swallowed a bitter pill and paid them. But one of the things that the current cultural zeitgeist has done really well is to convince a majority of us that taxes are bad, community investment is even worse, and people who don’t succeed on their own must somehow be lazy or bad or not blessed by God or whatever the current argument is that shifts us from a model of investing in each other and community to caring only about ourselves and our immediately families. There is a lot of information out there which clearly demonstrates that the strongest and healthiest communities out there are those that invest in public education and public libraries and the arts and in helping to bring the poor up and out of poverty. Literacy rates, for example, are tied into crime rates. Third grade reading proficiency is actually a pretty good indicator of what future crime rates for a city might look like.

This is my 3rd grader. She is reading a book that she checked out from the library to me in the car to me. A public library provides her with access to more books and a greater variety of books than I could afford to buy her.

This is my 3rd grader. She is reading a book that she checked out from the library to me in the car to me. A public library provides her with access to more books and a greater variety of books than I could afford to buy her.

Even when I was discussing the Forbes article at lunch with my husband The Teen said, “The people at Forbes don’t care about the type of people who need to use libraries. It’s not like they aren’t a bias source.” I was proud of her insight, though I do wish we could collectively move past the idea that it is only poor people who use libraries. Many people use libraries and in a variety of ways and all of them are meaningful and valid.

At this event, teens learned how to use technology to make their own images.

At this event, teens learned how to use technology to make their own images.

At some point in the conversation someone started the hashtag #LibrariesSave and people started sharing stories about their visits to libraries or librarians themselves started sharing stories about work. After a while a few themes started to emerge. For example, there were stories about librarians staying hours after closing and without pay to help a student or how libraries were now doing more with less. And this is what I want to talk about.

A group of teens hang out in a public library, reading books and making stuff.

A group of teens hang out in a public library, reading books and making stuff.

Make no mistake, I feel that libraries are a valuable community service and that the work we do often goes unrecognized. In many ways, the work we do is heroic. I have helped people who desperately needed work apply for jobs, I have helped adopted children try to locate their biological parents, and I have helped people find public assistance and support at a time when they needed it to survive. I by no means want to diminish the work that we do. The day to day tasks of librarianship are actually more mundane then we sometime like to acknowledge. I order books, I cultivate collections, I help patrons make copies and send faxes, and I provide programs for teens. Sometimes those moments have profound implications for our patrons, but most professions have those moments where they connect with a person or provide a moment or service that will have a profound impact on their life. I have heard what happens with librarians referred to as vocational awe, which I get. I believe that libraries are profoundly important, meaningful and impact for individuals and communities. I like to say I’m a superhero, but I’m also just a person doing a job and I need a lot of things to be successful at that job, I need to make enough money to support my family, and I need (and deserve) to have work/life balance.

Summer reading programs, which are staff and time intensive, keep youth read, help prevent the summer slide, and keep youth engaged during the summer months.

Summer reading programs, which are staff and time intensive, keep youth read, help prevent the summer slide, and keep youth engaged during the summer months.

I also believe that in moments of vocational awe or out of sheer dedication of service, many library staff and libraries do things that harm public libraries. By trying to go above and beyond we actually end up undermining our work and sending the wrong messages to our public supporters. Public libraries are dependent on support and funding from outside sources. We need state legislators and local voters to vote on the funding we need to open our doors every day, so we are constantly trying to prove our worth. I get the why of this, it’s just that sometimes I’m not sure we are doing the how of it very successfully. Every action we do sends an explicit and an implicit message. Sometimes, I fear, our messaging is off. But trying to be heroes, we communicate a lack of need that genuinely exists.

This teen is using technology she doesn't have access to at home to learn how to make stop motion movies. A variety of books in our collection helps her learn how to use the technology.

This teen is using technology she doesn’t have access to at home to learn how to make stop motion movies. A variety of books in our collection helps her learn how to use the technology.

Take, for example, the proud boast that libraries are doing more now with less. And it’s true, most libraries are now operating with less budgets, less staff, and in some cases, less open hours. And yet we have not done anything to cut any of our services. So now our staff are being forced to do more, but with less of what they need to be successful. On the one hand, it looks heroic and feels validating. Look at us, we’re so awesome that we are providing all the same excellent services with less staff, time and money. Except that also hurts us, because when it comes time to vote on funding again, all we’ve done is demonstrate to legislators and tax payers that we didn’t actually need that staff, time or money to begin with. Why should voters vote to increase our funding to previous levels when we have just demonstrated to them that we can do all the same things with half of the resources? Behind the scenes you and I know the true cost of on staff and resources to try and maintain those services, but we have to make sure we also are letting the public aware of our true need. Not all sacrifice is noble, especially when it is impacting the quality or reach of our services or leading to staff burn out and health complications.

The Teen meets an author at the South Irving Public Library. When teens connect with authors, they learn about the writing process, meet new and different people, and are more likely to be more invested in reading.

The Teen meets an author at the South Irving Public Library. When teens connect with authors, they learn about the writing process, meet new and different people, and are more likely to be more invested in reading.

Or let’s consider the move away from supporting professional librarians. And this is always a very touchy subject in libraries. I am an MLS librarian, but I wasn’t always. I personally am pro-MLS because although I do the same exact job that I did before getting my MLS, going through the graduate program really helped me be a better teen services librarian. The who, what, why and how of what I do became better informed and from a more knowledgeable foundation. And I understand and recognize some of the arguments that are had in the to MLS or not to MLS conversation. It’s expensive, it’s a barrier to access that keeps our profession overwhelming white, etc. This is all true and valid. And I don’t think that everyone working in a library has to have an MLS just as I don’t believe that everyone working in a doctor’s office needs to have an MD. Like any organization, it takes a wide variety of people with a wide variety of experience and knowledge to keep the doors open and the library running, and every one of those people are important and valuable. I don’t say we need MLS librarians to mean that we also don’t need or shouldn’t value paraprofessionals and other support staff. I do, however, believe that some of the people working in our libraries should be degreed librarians. I also believe that the movement away from hiring degreed librarians allows our local communities to undervalue the roles of libraries in our local communities. Every time an MLS librarian leaves and we replace them with a part-time non-MLD paraprofessional and as we watch the number of degreed librarians in public libraries shrink, we are communicating to our local communities and state legislators that libraries and librarians aren’t as important or as valuable as we said they were. It is, in part, I believe why libraries in the UK can just let go of their staff and replace them with unpaid volunteers. We’ve spent years telling them that anyone can run a library and with very little training, education, experience, or resources, and they believed us. We are reaping what we have sown.

After reading biographies on Hillary Clinton and Malala, Thing 2 decided she wanted to find ways to be a helper. She now makes us walk around the neighborhood on Trash Tuesdays and pick up trash. Books inspire and help build compassion.

After reading biographies on Hillary Clinton and Malala, Thing 2 decided she wanted to find ways to be a helper. She now makes us walk around the neighborhood on Trash Tuesdays and pick up trash. Books inspire and help build compassion.

Some of these stories talked about staff staying hours after the library closed and without pay to help patrons finish up a task. While noble, this also doesn’t help the cause. For one, it’s not fair to ask staff to remain after hours and without pay. Everyone deserves to have a good work/life balance and people need to have a livable wage and be compensated for their time. But more than that, all of this unpaid labor, donated time, and donated resources simply mean that our administrators don’t have a real understanding of what the library needs to be successful. Every hour a staff member donates is one hour that admin making budgets and schedules don’t know need to be included in their planning. Every resource donated by staff, and I know we’ve all donated food or craft supplies or prizes, is a budget item that isn’t accounted for. This means that the next year when our administrators are making budgets or going to legislators to request support and funding, then don’t have a real idea of the true cost of running our libraries and they don’t know what to realistically ask for. Also, you’re setting yourself and your predecessor up for failure. What happens when the next year you have a medical emergency and you can’t donate all that time or all those craft items and now you are being asked to perform at the same standards with the same resources as the year before because your administrator doesn’t know that you were donating some of those time and resources.

These t-shirts were creating by a group of teens learning a variety of ways they could combine technology to create their own clothing and engage in self-expression.

These t-shirts were created by a group of teens learning a variety of ways they could combine technology to create their own clothing and engage in self-expression.

I’m all for defending libraries, though I grow weary that we keep having to do so because privileged, non-library users keep attacking us in the library before taking a moment to really find out what libraries are doing and how often they are being used. And every time this happens I’m reminded that libraries need to do a better job of marketing libraries so we won’t keep having to have these moments of necessary defense. I also think when we defend our libraries or even when we market them, we need to be careful in how we do so. Sometimes, I fear, we are undermining our own goals in the ways that we talk about, market, and defend our libraries. More with less may translate in ways that suggest we can, in fact, cut library funding. Declaring that we don’t need MLS librarians may translate in ways that suggest that libraries are less professional than we want to appear. And donating our time and resources may translate in ways that suggest that we need less funding and support than we realistically do to function well.

These teens are in the library because they needed a space and access to technology to successfully complete a school assignment.

These teens are in the library because they needed a space and access to technology to successfully complete a school assignment.

I think we need to work on refining our message, understanding and communicating our worth and value, and demanding the adequate support and funding we need to truly be good at what we do. I know a lot of library staff that are barely surviving in barely funded libraries. As an institution, we are very dependent on public perception and support. It is vital to our continued existence that the public truly understands what libraries do, how they do it, why they do it, and what they realistically need to continue to do it well. We need to work on our messaging, and I believe it is critical that we need to do it now.

When we hurt our libraries, when we fail to realistically plan and staff our libraries, when we undermine our own worth and value, we’re also hurting the local communities that we serve. Our local communities deserved well staff, well stocked, and well run libraries with trained, qualified staff who provide quality patron service and help them reach their personal and community goals. We aren’t just hurting ourselves, we’re hurting the very people we have chosen to serve in our profession.