Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

A few of Heather’s favorite things

Life can be kind of chaotic sometimes – I often say that I went into librarianship so that at least one part of my life would be organized.  As a part time librarian and working mom with plenty of side projects, a lot of my favorite things are ways to make my time more efficient and streamline processes.  What makes my life as a teen librarian easier? 

I use Goodreads to log every book I read.  I used to use this super cute notebook, which I still treasure, but with all of the bouncing around and back and forth of my schedule, using an online log makes more sense.  Everyone has their own way of using GoodReads.  Personally, I review very few books on GoodReads because the bulk of my reading is done for my work as a Booklist reviewer, but I do give stars and put things on shelves when I think it would be handy to help me find them again.  Why log everything?  Oh bless your heart.  I used to have a mind like a steel trap, but that sucker is rusty.  Skimming through the list will usually jog my memory enough to help me find the book I’m looking for and want to suggest to a patron.

My mobile desk

Fancy, right?  Give me a three ring binder and one of these calendars and I’m a happy girl.  In my mobile desk I keep the bare minimum – the stuff I’ll use no matter which desk I’m staffing, and at every meeting I go to: a calendar, a running notepad, department head meeting minutes (What’s the deadline for spending that per capita grant money?  What’s the billing code?), budget overview documents, my cheat sheets for running reports, with plenty of space left over for the current issue of VOYA.

A supportive administration
So – so – so important.  And while you can’t go pick one up at Office Max, you can work to cultivate one for yourself.  Among all of the other tasks and responsibilities you have, this may be one of the most important on the list.  Growing or nurturing support for teen services in your library will help ensure that the teens in your community are part of the larger conversation when it comes to allocating space, staff, and funds.

#readadv chat
This Twitter chat is hosted by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, and Kelly Jensen.  It’s a really nice conversation about a different readers’ advisory topic each time and a good way to connect with librarians doing similar work on Twitter.  Really though, #readadv chat is a stand-in for any kind of connection to other librarians outside of your building, around the country, or across the globe.  Doing your job in a vacuum won’t do you or your patrons any good.  Connect to others doing similar work, different work, totally off the wall work, work you agree with and disagree with.  It will make your understanding of your own job and your roll in your community that much deeper and more effective.  

On any given day, I might work on four different machines.  Installing Dropbox on each machine keeps everything in one place and lets me share documents easily with my writing partner, access them at home, and never worry about version control.  With the app on my phone, I can snap pictures that I want to use on posters, save them to Dropbox and pull them up when I get to work.  Since it’s also accessible as a webpage, I can access presentations or files offsite.  And it’s free!

School Librarians
I work in a public library, which is where I really want to be, but where are the teens most of the time?  They’re in school!  Connect with the librarians at your local schools.  They are a tremendous resource for knowing what’s going on, which teachers will be most receptive to your booktalking offers, whether registration day or parent night would be a better time to get a table for the library, and which kids would be the best ones to send an invite for your book club.  Make friends!  Bring cookies!

Contigo travel mug
You could turn this thing upside down and shake it and it won’t leak.  No more coffee soaked library books, no more room temperature coffee once I get around to drinking it, no more not-so-mysterious brown stains on my favorite tote bags.  Put it on your wish list.

What a revelation this was to find.  It’s easy to sign up for: choose the series you are purchasing for your collection, and when a new one is announced, nearing publication, or published you get an email.  With YA publishing producing about a thousand new series a month, it is really difficult to keep track of everything.  This is so much more efficient and effective than my previous systems involving notebooks or half finished Excel files that inevitably resulted in gaps.

Sure, I love the stuff, but it’s not for me in this case.  Chocolate programs, candy making, sweet treat creations, all of this is programming gold with my teens.  I try to host at least one food related program each session, and they are inevitably the most highly attended ones.  Do yourself a favor, plan a Chocopallooza around Valentine’s Day and pull yourself out of the low winter program attendance doldrums. 

$1 Coke Zero from the McDonalds drivethru

zomg. Caffeine is my friend.  Especially on those days I forget my trusty Contigo mug of coffee and have to work till 9.  Sweet syrupy fountain Coke.  I’m not ashamed.


  1. I love FictFact! What a great “invention.” And, I'm intrigued by the travel mug. Thanks!

  2. No problem, Annette. FictFact has made my ordering so much easier – it's great.

  3. Anonymous says

    Contigo is an awesome brand. I purchased one prior to joining my library system and I tote it just about everywhere. It's stylish and useful to have around!

    Love FictFact. I've never heard of it before and am intrigued/excited.

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