Teen Librarian Toolbox (TLT) is a professional development website for teen librarians, created by Karen Jensen and collecting the experience of four MLS librarians and over 50 collective years of library work. Our mission is to to help libraries serving teens (and anyone who cares about teens) and to foster a community of professional development and resource sharing by providing quality information, discussions, book reviews and more. We welcome guest posts and our book review policy can be found here. We are available for presentations, seminars, and consulting on a limited basis. Contact us for more information.
The TLT Staff
I have been a Young Adult/Teen Services Librarian for 21 years and love working with teens, teen fiction, and graphic design. I read, I don’t cook. I have an undergraduate degree from Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Youth Ministry with a minor in Psychology and I received my MLS from Kent State University in 2002. I have been a reviewer for VOYA magazine since 2001. From 2009 to 2011 I was a part of the Wild Child Conference board. For the past 3 years I have also served as a first round judge for the Cybils awards in the YA Speculative Fiction category. I believe in the power of the 40 Developmental Assets and that the right book in the right hand can make all the difference. TLT is my attempt to share my passion with my fellow teen services librarians – and you. You can read my articles, Mpact: Building and Asset Builder’s Coalition (VOYA, October 2011) and If You Feed Them, or Not, Will They Come?, (VOYA, February 2012), Tapping into Teens’ Creativity and Turning Libraries into Makerspaces and Art Inspired by YA Lit (Both in VOYA, August 2013), and Walking in Another’s Shoes: Exploring Young Adult Historical Fiction (VOYA August 2014) in VOYA, the Voice of Youth Advocates. I have also written 2 articles which have appeared in School Library Journal: Launching a Dialogue About Sexual Violence in YA Literature (March 2014) and What Librarians Can Do to Help Fight the Culture of Slut Shaming (July 2014). Co-Author (with Heather Booth) of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services published in 2014 from ALA Editions. In 2014 I launched The #SVYALit Project with authors Carrie Mesrobian, Christa Desir and Trish Doller, where we discuss how you can us YA literature to discuss matters of sexual violence and consent with teens.
I have an amazing husband, known as The Mr., and two amazing little girls that I risked my life to bring into this world by battling a pregnancy illness known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum (http://www.helpher.org/ for more info). Learn more about HG in The ABCs of HG, an unconventional picture book done by yours truly. You can email me at kjensenmls (at )yahoo (dot)com. If there is no other name attached to a post, it’s written by me. @tlt16on Twitter. This blog and all its content belong to me and me alone and the thoughts and opinions expressed do not reflect those of my employer or School Library Journal (they want me to make sure you know that). A 2014 Library Journal Movers and Shaker: Advocates
Heather Booth, MLS
I am the Teen Services Librarian at Thomas Ford Memorial Library in suburban Chicagoland. I have worked in libraries since 2001 and am the author of Serving Teens Through Reader’s Advisory (ALA Editions, 2007) and the editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Servcies along with Karen. I started Teen Programming in Libraries (a collaborative board) on Pinterest and would be happy to add you as a collaborator there if you let me know. My library passions are nurturing a creative space through lifelong learning, matching the right book to the right reader, and providing impeccable customer service to everyone who walks through our doors. I have been reviewing Books for Youth and Audiobooks for Booklist Magazine since 2006. I can be reached at teenreadersadvisor (at) gmail.com or @boothheather and am available for speaking and consulting both in-person and virtually. Heather also blogs at the Robot Test Kitchen as part of her iLead experience.
Robin Willis, MLS
I am a School Library Media Specialist in Raleigh, NC, currently at Centennial Campus Magnet Middle School. I have worked as a school librarian for 18 years, the past 15 in middle schools. Yes, I am one of those odd people who really enjoy middle school aged students! I know this makes me slightly unbalanced in the eyes of the world, but it is totally worth it. I graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1990 with a BA in Religion (shout out to current most famous alum, Jon Stewart, who just barely edges out Thomas Jefferson in our nation’s consciousness.) Three years later I received my MSLS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Other than reading, I count cooking and snuggling my friends’ children as top amongst my hobbies. My favorite author is Jasper Fforde; I’ve seen him speak three times at my fabulous local book store, Quail Ridge Books. Although I read a wide variety of novels, realistic fiction and fantasy are my favorite genres. I also enjoy anything with a warped sense of humor (shout out to Captain Underpants!) Some authors currently overflowing my personal bookshelves are Holly Black, Ally Carter, Rachel Hawkins, Libba Bray, Lish McBride, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Rebecca Stead. I will watch anything that has come into contact with Joss Whedon. I’m an avid Nerdfighter and user of social media. I spend way too much time on Twitter and am happiest when I can answer research-type questions from the authors I follow. I live with two very sweet, very spoiled cats. For updates about my cats and pictures of various homemade baked goods, you can follow me on Twitter @RobinReads (a personal account whose opinions are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or TLT.) You can also reach me at robinreads (at) bellsouth (dot) net – although Twitter is probably quicker.
Amanda MacGregor, MA
I have spent fourteen years working with children’s and young adult literature in various capacities. I have worked as a bookseller, a children’s librarian, a high school library assistant, and a book reviewer. I graduated in 2000 from the University Minnesota Duluth with bachelor’s degrees in both English and Women’s Studies. In 2003, I graduated from Simmons College with a master’s degree in Children’s Literature. I have been a reviewer for Voice of Youth Advocates and the Horn Book Guide for ten years, and joined School Library Journal as a reviewer in 2014. I’m a librarian at Great River Regional Library-St. Cloud in St. Cloud, Minnesota, where I run the teen book club and facilitate the teen advisory board. My main areas of interest in young literature include depictions of LGBTQ youth and sex and sexuality. I was featured in a May 2014article in School Library Journal on how to support LGBTQ students. If I’m not reading books, writing a book, or writing about books, I’m probably dreaming about new tattoos, endlessly rewatching episodes of Gilmore Girls, or trying to convince someone to play Cards Against Humanity with me. I live in Minnesota with my software architect husband, our loquacious kid, and two elderly dachshunds named after children’s book characters. You can find me on Twitter @CiteSomething. All posts both here and on Twitter are my own thoughts and opinions and in no way reflect those of my employers. You can email me at amanda (dot) macgregor (at) gmail (dot) com. Photo credit: Jun-Kai Teoh
Other People Who Help Make TLT Happen
Ally Watkins, MLIS
I’m a youth services librarian in the metro Jackson, Mississippi area. I supervise a staff of 2 and the three of us provide services to kids from birth-18 at a midsized suburban library. On a typical day, I might be doing toddler storytimes, ordering materials for middle graders, or facilitating teen book club! I’ve worked in libraries for 5 and a half year. My reading habits are voracious, but I can stop anytime I want, really. (Guarantee: any time you’re reading this, I’ll have at least 2 books on my person.) My favorite author is Melina Marchetta, and if she called me and asked me to be her friend, I would quit my job and move to Australia tomorrow. You can follow Ally on Twitter.
Alanna Graves, MLIS
Eric Devine, Author and HS English Teacher
Eric Devine is the author of multiple works of Young Adult fiction, most recently, Press Play. His work has been listed by YALSA and Booklist for reluctant readers and for Best in Sports. He is also a veteran high school English teacher and is married to his high school sweetheart. He and his wife have two wonderful daughters and two not-so-wonderful Labradors. Find out more at ericdevine.org, facebook.com/ericdevineauthor, or Twitter: @eric_devine
Cuyler Creech, Reviewer and Aspiring Writer
Cuyler Creech is an aspiring author who lives in Weatherford, TX. He loves to read, spend time with his family and friends, and most of all, he loves to write. Cuyler is 18, and has been writing for many years. He’s also a published author of one novel (not in print anymore) and focuses primarily on young adult fiction. His favorite books are dystopians and horrors, and his favorite time to read is during thunderstorms. He is the oldest of three siblings, one who is diagnosed with Down Syndrome and Autism, and is going to college to become a Pediatric Occupational Therapist. Cuyler just turned 20 so we can’t call him our “teen reviewer” anymore.
Meet Our Teen Advisory Board
Lexi, Teen Reviewer
I’m a 17 year old couch potato. I spend most days reading, talking about books, and eating. I’m in love with contemporary, lgbtq+, and vampires books. I am the bibliophile who isn’t afraid to write in her books or bend their spines. Hardbacks are nice to look at but I’d much rather have a paperback in my hand. Aside from striving to be an OBGYN, I am also an aspiring cat lady.
Kicky, Teen Reviewer
I am an advanced brown belt in karate, so don’t mess with me. I love to read and since this is my mom’s webpage, she makes me review things sometimes. Oh, she wants me to tell you that she ASKS me to review sometimes. I desperately want to take violin lessons, go to Paris, and be a physical therapist. I am into fashion design. My mom drags me around to meet authors and I have met both Lauren Oliver, Claire Legrand, Jennifer Ziegler, and Natalie Lloyd, to name a few of my favorites. I have a dog but want more, my mom keeps saying no. You can see a list of my favorite books from 2012 here.
Ky (aka The Bestie), Tween Reviewer
Mocha Frappes are life. Middle school cheerleader who likes to read books. Savvy is one of my all time favorites. Barrel racer at heart. Texas made, Jesus saved. I spend a lot of time eating all the food in Karen’s house during ARC parties and she takes me to meet authors. Life is good.
Ceci, Tween Reviewer
I love horses but mum and dad keep saying no to owning one. I will keep trying. I love reading anything, though not really non fiction. I do two sports, field hockey and circus class. I’m 10 years old and I have a best friend. Peace. Ceci is a HUGE fan of Lisa Schroeder.
Z the Musician, Teen Reviewer
And Then There’s This Guy
The Mr. is an egghead, and an artist. This means that when I make my RA posters he stands over my shoulders and says, “Really, you’re going to use those two colors together” and “Black isn’t a color, it’s a value.” Some call him Tim . . . because that is his name. Although he is also a Monty Python fan. He reads the books I leave laying around the house, often picking up the one I am currently reading which is often a source of contention that breaks down like this . . .
Me : I was reading it first
The Mr. : I marked your page
Me : Why can’t you read one of the other 1,000 books we have around the house?
The Mr. : This one looks good
Me : I know, that’s why I’m reading it
So if he is going to steal my books while I am in the middle of reading them, I’m gonna ask him what he thinks about them.
Stephanie Wilkes, MLIS
Previously the Young Adult Coordinator for the Ouachita Parish Public Library in Monroe, Louisiana, I am now transitioning to a middle school librarian position. I’ve been a ‘librarian’ since 2008, when I graduated from LSU with my MLIS, but working in libraries since 2004 with teens (when I was barely older than they were). My passion is working with teens to connect them to great books. My favorite authors: David Levithan, John Green, John Corey Whaley, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle, and Philip K. Dick (not YA but still full of awesome). I probably could name several more…=) And then, after 5 pm, I’m a wife to a huge Batman fan and a mother to the most amazing son and adorable new baby girl. Tough life, but somebody’s gotta do it!
Chris Dahl, Library Aide
Reviewer Chris Dahl is a life-long resident of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.He has aspirations of world domination, but lacks the resources, ambition, and over-all managerial style to accomplish his goals.Anyone who believes that “still waters run deep” has never met Chris. He believes that there IS crying in baseball and blubbers like a baby every time he watches “Field of Dreams.” He has never been in a fist-fight, but has almost bowled a perfect game.In addition to reading he enjoys getting sun-burned and the occasional rant about how nobody listens to good music anymore. To the best of our knowledge, he is not in any way related to Roald Dahl, but we think it would be cool if he was. Chris is a library aide at both a public and a high school library.
Jayla Parks, MLS in May 2014
I got my start in libraries as a work study student in college. It wasn’t until one of the reference librarians told me about library school that I began to toy with the idea of becoming a librarian. I currently hold a part-time position as a YS librarian in South Carolina. I hope I can foster some awesome discussions about diversity topics relating to libraries, youths, and book lovers alike! You can find me talking about books and book related things over at LadyBlueJay.com.
Kearsten LaBrozzi, MLS
I’m a Teen Librarian at Glendale Public Library in Glendale, Arizona. I’ve spent half my life working in libraries, but the last six I’ve spent in the teen department have been the most fun by far: book clubs, zombie LARPs, and gaming, oh my! I run two monthly book clubs and a third every summer, and talking with others about the books we’ve read makes my day. Wandering our teen room, pulling books off the shelves, is my favorite way to recommend teen fiction and non-fiction, and here on TLT I’m hoping to translate that informal book-talking into something anyone can use. Kearsten does our monthly “Booktalk This!” feature.
Copyrights and Disclaimers
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner (Karen Jensen) is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the post author and Teen Librarian Toolbox with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. RA Posters and Library Memes may be freely used. All thoughts and opinions expressed belong to the individuals that wrote them and do not reflect the views of any outside affiliations including the libraries that we work at, the professional journals that we work with, etc. Please note: we sometimes get books and advance reader’s copies from publishers in return for an honest review.
TLT Around the Web
TLT is a networked blog with School Library Journal
Kent State University: Alum in Texas Creates Blog to Help Other Librarians
Who Loves Doctor Who? (Proquest Share This blog)
28 Must Follow Tumblrs for Fans of YA (Book Riot, The #SVYALit Project Tumblr is mentioned)
Book Review Policy
Teen Librarian’s Toolbox is a professional development website. We are a staff of 4, with 3 MLS librarians and one paraprofessional with a Masters in Literature. We also have several other individuals who help us on a semi-regular basis.
The mission of TLT is to equip teen librarians with the tools they need to successfully serve the teen audience, one of which is of course books. I am happy to receive ARCs (physical copies or e-books) from publishers or authors that help us fulfill this mission. We endeavor to
review them in a timely manner. We also enjoy guest blog posts from authors, publishing houses and more that can help teen librarians better serve their audience.
Any ARCs we receive will be passsed on as give-aways, Teen Summer Reading prizes, or to my fellow librarians for their input. For more information please feel free to e-mail me, Karen Jensen, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclosure Statement: Members of TLT occasionally receive copies of ARCs in exchange for our honest review. In addition, we have worked with some publishers to do promotional weeks where we post a series of posts
on titles by that publishing house, including honest reviews, in exchange for prizes that we offer to our readers.
Please note: TLT was feautred in VOYA’s Trending in Youth Culture: The Best Blogs and Sites for Youth Advocates (February 2012)