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Middle School Monday: Professional Development. Not the Optional Kind.

A Crucial Strand of PD.

We have an early-release day coming up. Does your school have those? Where you get to squeeze the work of a whole school day with students into a shorter time frame and then stay for meetings and/or professional development? Just typing that out is making me a bit tired.

This year, our staff is breaking up into small groups to work together on a professional development ‘strand’ of our choice. Two of our ELA teachers asked me to lead a strand on diverse literature. How awesome is that?

I eagerly said yes. Not only is it a favorite subject—and my guiding framework for collection development—but, we all need to be engaging in PD on this topic. We all need to continually be learning more. Thus, our REFLECTIVE LITERATURE PD strand was born. In addition to our ELA teachers from each grade, we also count our Assistant Principal and one of our Social Studies teachers as members.

Of course, the need for reflective literature is part of a larger conversation. When we talk about having books in our schools that reflect our students, their lived experiences, and their interests, it’s necessary to situate that idea in a discussion on culturally relevant pedagogy, structural inequities, institutional racism, and white privilege.

As we engage in these discussions with school staff, it’s helpful to remember that we are all at different points on our own cultural competence journeys. I thought I’d share our four point plan for our first meeting as these are resources or ideas that you might enjoy for yourself or want to share.

One. The Danger of a Single Story.

In Chimamanda Adichie’s illuminating TED Talk, The Danger of a Single Story, she shares her own first experiences with reading to drive home the point how “impressionable and vulnerable we are in the face of a story, particularly as children.” She brings together insights on reading, writing, power, stereotypes and story. And the joy of reading books that reflect you. Even if you’ve seen this before, each time is a gift for us as viewers—new understandings, powerful ideas, and favorite quotes. It made an ideal kick-off to our discussion.

Two. Diversity in Children’s Books 2015 Infographic.

The CCBC infographic below—Diversity in Children’s Books 2015—appeared on Sarah Park Dahlen’s post, Picture This: Follow Up. [The powerful imagery draws on the Windows/Mirrors analogy for literature first written by Rudine Sims Bishop. If you’ve never read her original article, find it here.]


This infographic is talking strictly about QUANTITY. Debbie Reese’s post at A Close Look at CCBC’s 2015 Data breaks down the 0.9% for American Indians/First Nations even further—taking into account reviews and authors. It is a crucial complement to the raw publishing data.

We didn’t start with these numbers to depress us, but rather to galvanize us.

Three. Race: The Power of an Illusion.

After a quick walk-through of PBS’s informative site, Race: The Power of an Illusion, we broke apart to engage with the site on our own.

Four. #ownvoices.

We then talked about the importance and necessity of #ownvoices titles. I had curated a stack of novels from our library collection and gave EXTREMELY quick booktalks on the titles. We each then chose one to read for our next PD strand meeting. Below are some of the titles chosen.


I’m Julie Stivers at @BespokeLib and I get excited talking about reflective literature!


Teen Services 101

Things We Didn’t Learn in Library School


Posts Tagged Professional Development

The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services

Reflections on Life at a Branch Library

Blogs We Follow


Building the Stacks: What I wish administrators, publishers and authors knew about collection development

The other day, I was interviewed by up and coming ya author Victoria Scott regarding Collection Development.  Collection development is, of course, one of the biggest parts of our job.  Although, ironically, I once worked at a library that put together a spread sheet of how much time you should spend each week of your 40 hours doing what and they allotted 1 hour a week to collection development. This was, of course, a pretty absurd time table.  It takes a lot of time to read reviews, put together carts through your jobber, weed collections, etc.  All of this helps us reach our primary goal: having collections that teens want to check out and read.

It must seem to others like some type of a magical process . . . new books keep appearing in the library.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I take my job to build collections very seriously.  In order to have a good collection, I need sufficient funds, and in order to have sufficient funds, I need to have a well circulating collection.  It can be an upward spiral or a downward spiral.  But the truth is, we can’t have good circulation numbers if we don’t have good materials.  This means we continually need new materials – and in a timely manner.  Library systems don’t always have ordering processes in place that allow for the quick acquisition of new materials.  And we all know that budgets are shrinking.

In my previous library system, we ordered materials every two weeks and it was a beautiful thing.  Realize that all your copies of Catching Fire have been lost or damaged?  No problem, a new order goes in every two weeks.  Did you just find out that book you ordered was number two in a new trilogy?  Also not a problem, you can order book one pronto.  (And yes, yes I have done this more times than I would like to admit. I would love it if reviewers would make a point of mentioning that a book is in a series, what number it is in the series and, if at all possible, the other titles in the series – especially if this is book two.)

Here are some things I wish that administrators knew:

We can’t have a high circulating collection if I don’t have the funds and ordering processes in place to build high circulating collections.  You can’t put the cart before the horse and demand it be successful.  Sometimes, you have to invest in something in order to see good results.  High circulating collections need time, space, and money.

Teen publishing is literally exploding these last few years.  There are so many titles being published, and such high demand for the titles, we need to make sure our budgets and spaces account for that.

We need space for face out shelving. That is all.

In my interview with Victoria Scott I mention the requirement that some libraries have that a book have a professional review in order to be added to the collection. Not just a professional review, but a positive professional review which justifies spending money to add the material to the collection.  But, the truth is, the Internet and inclusion of books in places like Wal-Mart and Target are changing the landscape of reading and what teens ask for.  In addition, they want to see tie-in novels to their favorite tv shows and movies, which are often not reviewed.  There needs to be ways to successfully include recreational reading in our collections.  These type of collection development policies leave teens with two choices, read only those books that adults have declared “quality” reading materials or read nothing.  I would rather that they read something, anything, with the hope that it will be the bridge to reading that finally makes them a satisfied library customer than walking out our doors unsatisfied.

We can’t keep ignoring the success of e-books.  We need to look at our collection development policies and budgets to make sure we have successful ways of meeting our patrons e-book needs. Yes, teens read e-books.  Even my tween has an e-book reader.  One can make the argument that not everyone has an e-reader and we dilute our funds for many but reaching out to meet the needs of a few; but we also risk alienating those few – and they are growing in number – as library supporters if we don’t prove our relevancy and meet their needs.  They will see no need to vote for supporting us because we no longer meet their needs and they have gone elsewhere.

The bottom line is this, if teens can’t find what they are looking for in the library, they aren’t coming back because there are so many other ways for teens to find what they want to read.  We may be free, but if teens have continued unsuccessful trips to the library, we still become irrelevant.

Here are some things I wish publishers knew:

If at all possible, try and show your book cover as much as possible in your ads, online, etc.  Teens judge a book by its cover and I am going to be honest, I judge a book by its cover.  It is, of course, not the most important factor – but it is something that I have to realistically consider.  If I have to cut an order because I have gone over my budgeted amount (which by the way is always), I am going to cut those lesser known titles that have boring or outdated covers because the bottom line is my teens won’t check them out.

If a book is a part of a series, make sure and mention that.  If at all possible, mention the other titles in the series.  It’s win/win for us both.

Every time you mention your book or show your cover, please make sure your ISBN is there.  I can’t order a book without the ISBN (with the ordering system we use, ISBN is the easiest access point) and it muddies the process if I have to go looking for it.  Along with less funds, we have less time as well.

All hail the power of the ARC! Although it is true that I can’t read every ARC I get, I look at them all and read a great many.  Like I said in my interview with Victoria, it really helps take some of the (albeit educated) guesswork out of collection development.  It also allows me to get actual teen feedback before making a purchase.  This is especially true for newer authors, new series, etc.  New is always a risky proposition, but you can help me take some of the risk out of it.

Here are some things I wish authors (and publishers) knew:

The other day, as I read my fifth book in a row about teens trapped somewhere – a mall, a school, wherever – I thought about diversity.  Not people diversity, but book plot diversity.  It is true that a lot of my teens are looking for the next Hunger Games – but that doesn’t mean it has to be a literal Hunger Games type plot. Sometimes when they say they want the next Hunger Games, it just means the are looking for the next big thing.  And to be honest, I have a lot of teens who haven’t read the Hunger Games or didn’t finish the series because they just didn’t like it.  There must be that temptation, I am sure, to write and publish those books that seem so similar to what is selling like hotcakes.  Heck, there is that same temptation to add it to our library collections.  But everything has a saturation point.  And I can’t help but look at those teens coming into my library who don’t find what they need in our collections; who don’t find themselves reflected in the books that they read.

Case in point: I’m going to age myself here, but when I was growing up I used to watch this little show called The Cosby Show. It was a funny, touching show about a family that was basically just like mine.  They fought over every day things.  Their parents were embarrassing but for all the right reasons. And they often did stupid things.  They did, of course, happen to be an African American family.  But the show wasn’t about them being an African American family, it was about them being a family.  Twice this week – and it’s only Tuesday as I write this – I have had tweens come in looking for books and everything that we discussed that was popular had a fair skinned main character.

One of the reasons that I loved The Downside of Being Charlie by Jenny Torres Sanchez is because it tells the story of a boy who doesn’t usually get to have his story told.  Girls are not swooning over him.  He does not have washboard abs and a killer smile.  But Charlie’s is a story that needs to be told because there are so many Charlie’s out there.

Sometimes, it is precisely because something is unique and different that it becomes so special.  We need those stories on our shelves to.

Now it’s your turn.  What do you wish your administrators knew about collection development? How about authors and publishers?

Edelweiss, Or Crack Cocaine for Librarians/Collection Development People (Stephanie Wilkes)

This is one of those ‘informative training type’ posts where I want to let you guys in on a little website that has completely blown my Snuggie off.  (Don’t steal my phrase…I’m gonna trademark that.)  Basically, if you are a librarian who orders books or if you work in collection development, you are going to want info about this website.  Edelweiss is a website that has this tagline: “Whether you’re a bookseller, sales rep, librarian, reviewer, or publisher, you have the same goal: to connect readers with books”.  I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Basically, this website is an amalgamation of publisher’s catalogs.  All of them.   EVER.  Well, probably not all of them but pretty much all of the ones that you are ordering books for your collection from.  Random House, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Egmont USA, Houghton Mifflin….you name it.  (I’m not paid by anyone to rep their publishing companies at all…if I left you off it was just because of a major lack of coffee and like I said, every publisher in the WORLD is on this site.  So that is your inclusion.  I’m going to stop now.)

So, instead of waiting for those color catalogs to come in the mail and letting them pile up on a corner in your office along with all other mail that we get daily, you can create an account and peruse the catalogs one by one all day long.

Now why is it crack-cocaine for you?  Because you can sit there and go through these catalogs for hours. Days.  Weeks.  Possibly months if you are an extremely slow reader, clicker, and you have an older computer.  Basically, the books are all listed in the catalog and you can see publication date, a ranking on Goodreads and the blogosphere of reactions, if it is the Frontlist or Backlist, the blurbs for the book, about the author info, publicity info from the publisher, and the list goes on.  Here is a sample of one of the listings for a book that I am absolutely salivating over:

See the page here

You can see the sale date, the ISBN #, the targeted audience, pages, sales rights, the Goodreads meter that shows the popularity of the title, summary, bio, marketing plans, selling points (which can be used for book talks), and quotes and reviews.  What more could you ask for?

Oh, well this:

See the page here

That little green button?  Yes, on Edelweiss you can Request a Review Copy for your e-reader.  So, it takes what NetGalley has done and brought it up to a collection development level.  I will say that NetGalley does have more YA titles than Edelweiss though, not sure why. 

Here’s the deal…with the abundance of rights being sold for trilogies and series, it is in your absolute best interest to use resources like these when you are working on collection development.  I preach day in and day out that Amazon should not be your discovery point for book selection and I 100% stand by that statement.  If you are a true professional, you should be using professional resources.  If you are training to be a librarian, work in a library, or want to ever work in this field, you should be learning how to use professional resources, not websites like Amazon, to determine what books are coming out and when.  There are several websites that collect information about release dates for YA books ( and TeenReads (   And, personally, if you want to browse a website to see what is selling, I urge you to use Indie Bound (

There are other options you can use on this site to help you, some of which I am just now starting to use now that the glazed eyes have worn off after a three-day collection development spree.  For example, creating your own collections and even using a feature called GeoSearch, which enables you to find materials published that may have your city mentioned or authors near you. 

Okay, so a recap.  Schedule yourself a good 4 days in your office.  Make a large pot of coffee/tea/beverage of choice and sit down at your computer.  Crack your knuckles.  Pop your neck.  Go to http://edelweiss.abovethetreeline.comand create an account.  We’ll see you next week and Karen and I will try not to post anything very exciting until then.  And for those of you who already have an addiction to Edelweiss, we will be having our first Edelweiss Non-Anonymous meeting soon via Twitter. 

If you have questions about Edelweiss, feel free use their help page or contact them via Twitter @weiss_squad.  They are super helpful, super friendly, and as with all metaphorical drug dealers, readily available. – Stephanie Wilkes

Middle School Monday: A Crucial Strand of PD. Part Two.

MSM1After last week’s post on Day One of a Reflective Literature professional development strand, readers reached out to learn more. As we had Day Two of our strand just last Friday, I thought I’d do two things today. 1: tell you what our plan was for that PD and 2: first, briefly talk about the most critical part of this sort of PD.

What is the most critical part of PD on equity training/culturally relevant pedagogy? Answer: It’s ongoing. It’s daily. It’s never finished.

How do I engage in this PD daily? 1. By learning from my students. 2. By following and learning from educators, authors, and activists on Twitter who are experts in this field, including:

@TheJLV @djolder @debreese

@davidekirkland @chrisemdin @CrazyQuilts

@zettaelliott @jbakernyc @Tolerance_org

@malindalo @RafranzDavis @EvaVegaWorld

A reminder: engaging in equity training requires that we be willing to sit in discomfort as we examine our own bias, identify structural inequities in our own institutions, and engage in discussions with colleagues.

One. Implicit Bias.

To jump start our discussion on implicit bias, I used the beginning of a presentation from the 2014 YALSA Young Adult Literature Symposium titled Using Multicultural YA Literature to Examine the Impact of Racism on the Lives of Teens of Color. Full disclosure–it’s a presentation I worked on that explored the realities of institutional racism, the reasons why talking about race and racism is necessary, and ways to use diverse YA literature to open up these dialogues with teens. We only did the first few slides, but there are certainly different portions that could be used in these discussions.

Two. Checking in with our #ownvoices novels.

It will be lovely if at each PD meeting, a member discusses the #ownvoices novel she/he chose to read at the first session. On Friday, I talked about Ghost by Jason Reynolds. Well, I didn’t talk about it…I wanted my colleagues to hear Jason Reynolds talk about it. [We watched a portion of his talk at the National Book Festival.] I’ll talk more about Ghost with all of you down the road, but, I:

  1. Loved it.
  2. Want to use it as a sixth grade class text in the Spring.

Three. Individual Work.

After introducing Harvard’s Project Implicit, I shared the link and suggested that we all engage in at least two of their implicit bias tests.

I’m Julie Stivers at @BespokeLib and I hope you have a great week. I’d love to hear about your favorite/most crucial Twitter follows!

Friday Finds: December 2, 2016

fridayfindsThis Week at TLT

Sunday Reflections: Common Sense isn’t Really all that Common

Middle School Monday: Professional Development. Not the Optional Kind.

Teaching Teens Media Literacy 101

Book Review: A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom

Book Review: Safe is Not Enough: Better Schools for LGBTQ Students by Michael Sadowski

Video Games Weekly: Lego Harry Potter Collection

Behold the Power of Reading; Or, how my 8-year-old was inspired to start her own #TrashTuesdays

#MHYALit: Unbearable: A Reflection on Hunger, a guest post by Lindsay Eagar

#SJYALit, Social Justice in YA Lit – The 2017 TLT Project

Finding an Authentic Teenage Voice, a guest post by author Amy S. Foster

Around the Web

Raising A Child With Dyslexia: 3 Things Parents Can Do

Lemont H.S. class reading list questioned by parents

Not about teens, but worth a read.

Betsy DeVos and the Wrong Way to Fix Schools

Fullness of Humanity: Native Americans in Youth Literature

Team for YA Best-Seller ‘Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian


Back to School: How to support and respect LGBTQIA+ students

This time of the year means school is back in session, or nearly back in session, for many of us. It’s a good time for a reminder of how to support and respect LGBTQIA+ teens in classrooms and libraries, as well as be reminded of a few great resources. Obviously all of this goes for all people of all ages, but for a lot of queer teens who may be dreading heading back to school, it’s extra important. I know teachers, librarians, and others who work with teens are there to encourage and support all teens and are already aware of these issues and resources, but it never hurts to have a quick and easy list to be able to reference and pass along.


Have other suggestions of resources or reminders? Add them in the comments!

Last year, The Chronicle of Higher Education had this great video post, ‘Ask Me': What LGBTQ Students Want Their Professors to Know.

This Mashable post, 5 accidentally transphobic phrases allies use — and what to say instead, is a good quick reminder of how much our words matter, too.

For more on words, check out this American Psychological Association Psychology Benefits Society post, Stop Saying “That’s So Gay!”: 6 Types of Microaggressions That Harm LGBTQ People and, on Buzzfeed, this post, 19 LGBT Microaggressions You Hear On A Daily Basis.

Are you familiar with the National School Climate Survey? From their site: “The 2013 National School Climate Survey(pdf) is GLSEN’s 8th biennial report on the school experiences of LGBT youth in schools, including the in-school resources that support LGBT students’ well-being, the extent of the challenges that they face at school, and insights into many other aspects of LGBT students’ experiences. The survey has consistently indicated that a safer school climate directly relates to the availability of LGBT school-based resources and support, including Gay-Straight Alliances, inclusive curriculum, supportive school staff, and comprehensive anti-bullying policies.” In this November 2014 TLT post, I summarize many of the main findings. The 2015 National School Climate Survey report will be released in Fall 2016!

While you’re looking at TLT, also check out this GLTBQ YA Resources for Building a Collection and Supporting Teens post. From there you can explore links on reading lists, blogs and Tumblrs to follow, resources, hotlines, and more. Two essential blogs to check out for reading recommendations, reviews, and great overall discussions by and about LGBTQIA+ people and issues are Gay YA and LGBTQ Reads. You can easily go spend a few hours poking around both sites—and they would be hours very well spent.

Campus Pride. From their site: “Campus Pride serves LGBTQ and ally student leaders and campus organizations in the areas of leadership development, support programs and services to create safer, more inclusive LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities. It exists to develop, support and give “voice and action” in building future LGBTQ and ally student leaders.”

Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. From their site: “The combined vision and mission of the Consortium is to achieve higher education environments in which lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students, faculty, staff, administrators, and alumni have equity in every respect. Our goals are to support colleagues and develop curriculum to professionally enhance this work; to seek climate improvement on campuses; and to advocate for policy change, program development, and establishment of LGBT Office/Centers.”

HRC Welcoming Schools. From their site: “HRC Welcoming Schools is a comprehensive approach to creating respectful and supportive elementary schools with resources and professional development to embrace family diversity, create LGBTQ-inclusive schools, prevent bias-based bullying and gender stereotyping, and support transgender and gender-expansive students.”

At Teaching Tolerance, a Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, check out this post, Best Practices: Creating an LGBT-inclusive School Climate. From their site: “It all starts with awareness. Often educators are unsure how to support their LGBT students in a meaningful way. These best practices were compiled to give school leaders the knowledge they need to create a climate in which their most vulnerable students feel safe and valued. Through inclusive policies and nurturing practices, administrators, counselors and teachers have the power to build an educational environment that is truly welcoming to all students.”

Middle School Monday: It’s Still Summer by Julie Stivers

MSM1It’s Still Summer.

I truly only planned on writing one post about summer, but this topic caused discussion amongst school librarians who reached out to me—and it also caused some lingering discussion inside my own head. I can’t let this topic go, yet. Mainly because last week’s post was incomplete. I realized it as I spent some time in one of my favorite places.

The public library.

Gah, I love public libraries. How could I talk about what school librarians do during the summer without mentioning visiting our local public libraries?

Libraries have always been sanctuaries. We try to turn our school libraries into sanctuaries for our students [is there anything more rewarding than to feel like you’ve succeeded in that?] and we, in turn, enjoy visiting them ourselves.

I love seeing what books librarians and staff have recommended. That in and of itself is fascinating to me. [Imagine working with other librarians!] I especially look for those books recommended by our county’s teen library helpers.

It’s also enlightening to turn the tables on myself. When I walk in those library doors, I’m another patron. There is a power in that—and a lot to learn. What do I like seeing when I walk into the space? Book displays? Circ desk? It’s always grounding to stand on the opposite side from our normal role. And, the books, people. The books!

Professional development.

Some of us may be lucky enough to attend trainings or conferences over the summer—either that our school pays for or that we eat the cost for ourselves. We also spend time watching webinars as part of our ongoing PD. If you haven’t participated in one in a while, I encourage you to see what you’re missing.

Free “On-Demand” Webinars from YALSA

Complimentary Content/Webinars from AASL

I’m excited about this upcoming SLJ event:  SLJ Teen Live Virtual Conference coming on August 10th. The keynote speakers are Meg Medina and Maggie Stiefvater. I don’t think any other promotion is necessary after that reveal, but this is “an online conference highlighting the biggest upcoming YA books and important issues impacting your teen materials and programming.”  Register here.

Book reviews.

In addition to the copious amounts of reading we do throughout the summer, there is time spent on choosing those books for our first book orders of the year. Clearly, this involves our own reading and the reading of multiple and diverse review sources.

This summer has been highlighted with necessary and illuminating discussion on the nature of reviewing and the overwhelmingly white POV represented in most reviews. For specific commentary on a new YA title, If you haven’t already, please read Black Voices Matter by Zetta Elliott and this Guest Review on Crazy QuiltEdi by Jennifer Baker. Of course, simply reading these reviews is not enough—we have to use this information to make informed decisions about our library purchases, or in this case for me, non-purchases.

For school librarians on a traditional calendar, we’re on the downward slope to the start of the school year. Have fun on that slide!



Serving Full T.I.L.T. : Talking Up Teens

For our final piece in our Serving Full T.I.L.T. (Teens in Libraries Today) series, Eden Grey is talking about advocacy. Next week we’ll here from you.

Why is in-house advocacy important?

We all see advocacy at a national level, in social media blasts by ALA and YALSA, awareness campaigns by School Library Journal, fundraisers by the We Need Diverse Books group. What we don’t see as often are the ground-level, grassroots efforts to increase awareness about Teen Services and the needs of modern teens. Much like the Serving Full T.I.L.T. series, initiatives by a small number of librarians are just as important as national endeavors by organizations with million dollar budgets. The advocacy efforts of individuals in their own library systems and consortiums can have a very important impact on the awareness and support of Teen Services in libraries.

When should you actively be advocating?

Seizing the opportunity whenever it arises sounds good in theory, but isn’t so good in practice. As an advocate for Teen Services, you’ve got to choose your battles wisely. Not every department meeting and program planning session is a good time to talk up your teens and your outreach stats. Instead, here are some specific opportunities for actively talking up your service to teens:

Seize (almost) every opportunity for sharing a warm and fuzzy story. Don’t do it every day, but every few days if you see an opening to share something heartwarming one of your teens said, or a nice outcome from an outreach visit, go ahead and make it into a story. These stories should be shared most often with your supervisor and other administrative officials, but can also be shared with your other co-workers. Your boss will most likely share the stories with others, even with his or her boss, and word about your teens and how you serve them will get around.

Ask to have meetings with your supervisor that are just focused on your services to teens. Make it clear that you want to talk about how you’re doing, what your numbers are like, what’s working and what’s not, etc. Show your supervisor everything you’re doing, and why it’s important. These meetings are all about you – and the focus should stay that way if you make that clear from the outset. If you have a good supervisor, he or she will understand the purpose and meaning of these meetings. If that is not the case, take the meetings to the next level – maybe meet with a department head, branch manager, or even ask to speak to your director if you are not being heard by others. These meetings should happen at least twice a year, but don’t be afraid to ask for more frequent meetings if you feel the need to.

Techniques of In-House Advocacy


It is so important to keep track of as many numbers as possible. Number of programs, program attendance, number of students, teachers, and librarians served at outreach, circulation of the YA collection, number of teens who use the board games in your teen area, teen volunteer hours, and the list could go on.

 Just recording the numbers isn’t enough. Put them in spreadsheets or tables and keep track of annual data.

Stories & Anecdotes

Heart-warming stories go a long way toward changing the perception of teens in libraries. If you have a good memory for stories and enjoy telling them in other aspects of your life, you’ll have no problem recording a bunch of anecdotes to tell your boss and coworkers. However, if you’re like me and are extremely awkward and hesitant when it comes to telling stories, here are some tips:

  1. Keep it short. Stick to the point or result of the story.

  2. Include names and other specific information.

  3. Jot down details of the story in your program reports or where you record your attendance or other numbers.

 For example, my regular group of teens has a couple of ringleaders that my coworkers are very familiar with. Nate and Maine are a little bit infamous at my library. However, when a new person shows up at programs, I can count on those boys to welcome them, show them the ropes, and introduce them to everyone. The new kid immediately feels welcome, and like part of the family. Whenever this happens I make sure to tell my boss about it – it shows just how caring, responsible, and kind my teens are. See also: Sharing Stories by Heather Booth.


If you don’t submit monthly reports to your supervisor, you should seriously consider asking them about it. While it may lead to your coworkers seriously resenting you, it will be worth it in the long run for everyone. Creating monthly reports of your programs and services shows just how much work you’re doing for Teen Services, and allows you to compare your work to previous months and years. Annual reports just aren’t enough when you’re dealing with the wide variety of tasks that Teen Services Librarians do.

 Turn the numbers you record into reports. Compare numbers from previous months and years. Ask how devoting time to one aspect of your job affects the results of other aspects: Has program attendance increased since you started working there? What about since you got into those new schools or classes? Has circulation gone up or down since you implemented those new programs?

 Take the answers to these questions and present them to your supervisor/s. Show them the clear-cut results of your hard work. If you submit a monthly report, include the tables of data and your conclusions. Those reports will be read by your supervisor’s boss, and most likely looked over by the library’s director as well.

 Public Relations

 Taking photos at programs and while teens are volunteering is also a great way to share a quick “anecdote,” and not only with your coworkers, but with the rest of the community as well. Recently my library’s head of PR sent out a reminder that she is always looking for stories. She keeps them in folders in her email, shares them with the library director, and uses them for community and media outreach. Sharing those stories with the media may lead to a local newspaper wanting to spotlight one of your teen programs or teen volunteers. Your library director may share stories from your outreach visits when he or she is at a committee or council meeting in the community. Having photos to go along with the stories means PR can share them on social media or the library’s website.

 Advocacy Takeaways

 Maintain a balance between talking up your teens and your own work, and just working hard. Take the right opportunities to share your work, and if those opportunities don’t arise on their own, ask for meetings with your boss.

 Don’t just record numbers every month; turn those numbers into meaningful data. Make reports tracking everything from program attendance to outreach numbers to board game and video game usage. Share those reports with your library’s administration whenever possible, and use the numbers to back up your own needs and use of time.

 Always be advocating. Seize the opportunity to talk up your teens to a grumpy coworker. Share information about your teen volunteer program to an overworked teacher or school librarian. Chat up people in the community about the library and the things you do for teens. Don’t assume that people know what you do at your job – enlighten them, whether they’re the cashier at the craft store or your weekly game night friends.

For more on advocacy, check out our various posts on advocacy under Professional Development

Serving Full T.I.L.T. (Teens in Libraries Today) series:

January 14 By the Numbers, making the case for teen services using basic demographic information (Karen Jensen)

January 21 Sarcasm, Spice and Everything Awesome: The Developing Teen (Rebecca Denham)

January 28 Teen Brain Science 101 (Heather Booth)

February 4 Asset Building 101, How using the 40 Developmental Assets can help us plan and evaluate teen programming (Karen Jensen)

February 11 Diverse teens, diverse needs (Eden Grey)

February 18 Sharing stories, how knowing and sharing the stories of our teens can help make the case (Heather Booth)

February 25 Empathy, remembering what it means to be a teen and how it makes us better teen services librarians (Karen Jensen)

March 4 A Teen Services 101 Infographic (Karen Jensen)

Sunday Reflections: The 12 Blogs of 2014, an introduction and look back at previous blog hops

Every year in December we like to do a little play on the 12 Days of Christmas that we call The 12 Blogs of Christmas. Given the recent debate about holiday programming that is currently taking place in the library world (see here), I kind of wish we had called it something else. Although the current debate does highlight why it is exactly that we make sure and visit a variety of blogs as a part of our professional development: when we engage in professional dialogue we can gain new insights and think about our profession in new, different and sometimes very challenging ways. I have been seriously interested in the discussion currently surrounding the great holiday debate and see the value in many points of view being expressed. As I mentioned in the comment that I myself left on the SLJ opinion piece linked above, I have always kind of wondered how it is that public libraries get away with Christmas displays and programming because they can in some ways be construed as being exclusive and promoting one religious point of view over all others (and I say that as a Christian). But I also think the rebuttal that everything we do is exclusive in some way to at least one person is also true. I could not take Thing 2 to library storytimes because they refused to go food free – and I worked there! – and their inclusion of food in toddler storytime put her health in serious jeopardy. And yes, when we do a gaming program we are appealing to only one segment of our population, etc. Like I said, there are lots of good points being made on all sides of this heated debate.

So, while I am enjoying the thoughtful debate that is currently happening in our profession, and in the spirit of great debate and professional growth, this year I am going to call The 12 Blogs of Christmas the 12 Blogs of 2014. I very much enjoy being a part of a community and want to share with you the blogs that help inspire, inform, educate, and entertain us here at TLT. Every day for the next 12 days we will highlight one new blog, with each TLTer sharing 3 of their favorites. And to get us started, here’s a look at the 12 blogs we have done each year for the last 3 years.

The 12 Blogs of TLT 2013

A Beautiful Mess – a craft blog with lots of great photography tips and some great Instagram crafts that make great library programs

Diane Ravitch’s Education Blog -lots of great discussions about public education

Terrible Minds – Author Chuck Wendig’s awesome blog with both lots of insight and sometimes great sarcasm

The Daring Librarian – AKA Gwyneth Jones, she is one of the most vibrant people online that I follow, and has awesome energy and creativity- and when I need a pick-me-up, I start browsing through her site and her twitter.

Women Write About Comics (Seriously, a lot) – Women writing about comics, the title really says it all

Justin the Librarian – A Mover & Shaker and YA librarian doing lots of cool stuff

Book Blather – YA Librarian Drea does lots of cool stuff

Make it @ Your Library – A great place for Makers

Hi Miss Julie – Though Julie Jurgens works with a younger group than many of the TLT readership does on a regular basis, her blog is still great, even essential reading

YA Lit Quotes – A great place to find book quotes, and they are easy to reblog (We Heart YA)

Go Book Yourself – It’s reader’s advisory!

Diversity in YA – Lots of important discussions about diversity in YA

The 12 Blogs of TLT 2012

The Nerdy Book Club – An amazing blog with lots of contributors reviewing books, talking about reading, etc.

The Goddess of YA Literature – Professor Nana talks books, libraries, education and more

Oops, I Craft My Pants – A great craft resource

Dual Perspectives – TLT guest contributor Bryson McCromb and super A. S. King fan used to blog here. It hasn’t been updated in a while.

Huffington Post Teen – The Huffington Post has lots of great posts by teen guest contributors and about teen issues.

Stacked – Kelly Jensen and Kimberly Francisco blog about a variety of important topics and give great analysis of books and the publishing world.

The Show Me Librarian – Amy Koester blogs about a great variety of librarian things, including STEM/STEAM programming and providing program outlines

Guys Lits Wire – I am not of the whole ‘guys and girls read different books’ mentality but I do like to find books that have male main characters.  Guys Lit Wire is a site I stumbled across via Twitter one day and fell in love. The best part, to me, is that they often talk about older titles!

Forever Young Adult – a blog done by nine (YES, nine!) readers that discuss everything YA

Makezine – You keep hearing about some new creative… thing but don’t know what it is or how it’s used?  I like using Makezine for all of these things.

Swiss Army Librarian – Brian Herzog blogs about life at the Reference desk

The Red Reading Chair – My friend and fellow librarian Amianne Bailey shares her life as a high school librarian

12 Blogs of TLT 2011

YA Books and More – Naomi Bates is a high school librarian in Texas, an amazing one. On her blog, YA Books and More, Naomi reviews the latest teen titles and often makes book trailers that you can share with your teens.

GreenBeanTeenQueen – Besides having a cool name and cool design scheme, this blog is full of book reviews by a tween and teen librarian. You’ll want to check it out if you are not already following it.

YA Book Shelf – They provide me with a lot of good information not only about booktrailers, but about books themselves. It’s a good site.

Popwatch – Popwatch is a pop culture blog on the Entertainment Weekly website. They cover everything: video games, books, movies, TV, and celebrity in general. – To work with teens you have to spend a little time in teen culture so I go to is the Popwatch of teen culture.

Reading Rants! – Reading Rants is now over 10 years old and it is still fantastic. Here a middle school librarian, whose favorite flavor if you should care to know is blue raspberry, writes insightful but fun book reviews and puts her books in unique book categories like “Dead-heads and Moshpits” and “Fanging Around”.

Y Pulse – YPulse provides you with a wealth of information on everything teen; from marketing to research and even trending topics.

Guys Read – Guys Read is the brainchild of Mr. Jon Scieszka. Yes, THAT Jon Scieszka. The site’s goal is to help connect guys with books. – Teen Reads is a great place to find book reviews and information about upcoming teen releases. Awesome added features include Coming Soon lists, On Sale this Week lists, Books on Screen, and Adult Books You Want to Read.

Rookie Magazine – Rookie magazine calls itself a magazine, but given the way it is formatted and updated I am going to go with blog. Rookie is a site for teenage girls by teenage girls.

Daily Infographic – I really recommend you check out Daily Infographic for a few reasons:
1) We deal in information and it is interesting to see what others are thinking and talking about;
2) They are often good for sharing on your teen social media pages;
3) They are good examples and inspirations for design ideas;
4) I strongly encourage you to create your annual reports to your co-workers, admin, and community in infographic form as opposed to traditional pages of text and numbers. They show professionalism, are easy to interpret, and they can really convey the message of what you are doing; and
5) If you check some of my previous blog posts, they can make some good programming idea (graduating teens can infographic their lives, all teens can do their year, etc.)

The Hub – The Hub is the teen reads blog of YALSA, the Young Adult Library Services Association (a division of ALA).