Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

The Things I Never Learned in Library School Badge Collection (Christie)

Confused about badges? Badges can be a cool thing- I am actually looking at trying my hand at designing some for my teen summer reading program using open sourceware and seeing if they fly with my teens. In addition to turning in their reading log, I’m hoping to be able to set it up so that they can earn badges for attending certain types of programs, or volunteering to help out with youth programs- tailoring it to the Collaborative Summer Reading Program‘s Spark a Reaction theme, of course.  

If you need a starting place for more information on badges, check out the presentation from Brett Bixler at the NJEdge conference in 2012. 

IN fact, I think we need a Things I Never Learned in Library School collection of Badges. This humorous post looks at all the badges we should be earning, but aren’t. They would include:

 I. Leadership and Professionalism

  • Drama Control: be able to deal with workplace drama and gossip
  • Networking: learn who the inner circles are within work spaces and organizations, and learn the hierarchies and work them to your advantage
  • Politics: learn how to discuss things in political two-speak to further your goals
  • Defusion: how to untangle angry patrons and calm situations before things get escalated
  • What Not To Wear: learning to read the dress code for work spaces, conferences and meetings through email, and having the appropriate clothes already in your closet
  • S.O.S.: squirreling away in your office/desk a small kit of emergency aids for surprise meetings with City Managers, Mayors, and other top level offices (may include deodorant, body spray, accessories, and other products)
  • Sanity Basics: knowing how much you can do without losing what sanity you had to begin with


II. Knowledge of Client Group
(Ninja Skills) 

  • Culture: knowing what is hot and what is old within the culture of your community and in the teen sphere at large (can be two entirely different things)
  • Clairvoyance: being able to predict what teens will be into 3-6 months in the future so you can plan programs accordingly
  • Adjust: be able to adjust your knowledge base and language abilities to your clientele on a moment’s notice
  • Invisibility: having gained the unique power to render everyone else on staff invisible to your teen so that you are the ONLY person that can serve their need, no matter how small it may be


III. Communication, Marketing and Outreach

  • Sarcasm: ability to converse to teens in native language
  • Profanity in Other Languages: the ability to detect and converse in profanity in other languages prevalent within the community at appropriate times, usually when teens think they are talking behind the teen librarian’s back
  • Captain Jack: Even if you don’t know what you are doing, do it with style and panache and complete confidence
  • Ranting: the art to expound on important subjects at length
  • DaVinci: the ability to create your own program fliers on the fly 
  • Early Adapter: being on all the important and new social media before ANYONE else and abandoning the old ones when they just start to be stale
  • GIBBS: the ability to GIBBS-smack a teen when they are misbehaving like you are their parent
  • Internal GPS: the ability to find your way back to your home library no matter what school or other outreach opportunity you have been booked at


(AKA, the devil is in the details)

  • Scheduling 101: using calendars and other tools to make sure that you don’t lose your Sanity Basics badge, as well as overbook yourself with programs and projects
  • Budgeting: knowing how to stretch your meager programming and materials budgets farther than anyone could think possible
  • Beggar: the ability to make you and your programs seem the neediest in the area in order to gain donations from local vendors repeatedly
  • Translation: the ability to take political double speak and translate it into what it really means for you and your programs and teens
  • Creativity: the ability to create amazing and interesting programs to teens out of three pipe cleaners and some leftover pom poms from the youth summer reading program
  • Photography: remembering to take pictures of all the programs that you have to to promote what you’re doing to your boss, your administration, your community, and to have visual record of programs that you have done for your portfolio
  • Pied Piper: the uncanny ability to draw tweens and teens to you in order to build a base for programming. Born in some, learned in others.
  • Juggling: being able to juggle desk time, planning time, implementation time, development time, meetings, and all other tasks in the amount of time you are actually paid for
  • Jackpot!: the ability to be paid for your conference registration and attendance, and possibly even room and board
  • Silver Tongue Devil: ability to have to never pay for anything you need for a program in a fiscal year, including bring things like tabletop or console games from home
  • Imminent Domain: having an actual office of your own, or having a department to call your own
  • WTFery: the ability to drop everything at a moment’s notice to jump through the latest hoops that they needed by yesterday


V. Knowledge of Materials

  • Bodily Fluid Management: knowing how to identify and dispose of various bodily fluids on library furniture and floors that the general public wouldn’t normally associate within a public space (includes blood, vomit, feces, and sperm)
  • Osmosis: the ability absorb the knowledge of books through fingers, sleeping, and other means in order to keep up with all the new materials, series, anime, and magazines that teens read and want to discuss with you
  • Technology: the ability to instantly understand and work new technology that becomes available, including gadgets and social media
  • Conversion: the ability to share your love of a book/movie/genre to others
  • Upcycling: the ability to take ANY scrap leftover and turn it into a program in order to stretch your programming budget

VI. Access to Information

  • Ear to the Ground: knowing not only who is going out with who, but who likes who, who’s breaking up with who, and who’s causing trouble
  • Hrothbert of Brainbridge: encyclopedic knowledge of anything any teen would need to know at any time in order to impress them, no matter how insignificant.
  • Nudge Nudge Wink Wink You Know What I Mean?: the remarkable ability to fake knowledge of what a teen is talking about through an entire conversation, then look it up so that the next time they come in you can converse about it intelligently
  • Truthsayer: the ability to hear rumors and find out what is true and what is not, including teens and the workplace
  • Counseling: the knowledge of how to deal with teens who have broken up with a significant other. Usually involves large amounts of Kleenex, hand holding, and listening.
  • Can’t Stop the Signal Mal: Continue to advocate for what you and your teens need, even in the face of constant adversity

VII. Services

  • Tech Reset: the ability to reset the latest gadget that has been locked due to someone taking it and trying to “hack” it by entering the wrong password
  • Dear Librarian: the ability to listen to teens talk about everything that is good and bad in their life, and give advice without being like another weird “adult” in their life
  • Open Mindedness: being open to try whatever teens would like to do in a library setting within reason
  • Enthusiasm: bringing with you joy and enthusiasm to programs and ideas, and letting teens know that you are happy to be there with THEM
  • Feed Me, Seymour!: be it ever so humble, all programs are the BOMB with food
  • Babel Fish: the ability to understand instructions, from games to furniture, and be able to follow them within short amount of times
  • Don’t Panic: remembering that no matter what, everything will be OK as long as you know where your towel is


  1. I must declare, as much as I enjoyed reading what you had to say, I couldnt help but lose interest after a while. Its as if you had a fantastic grasp on the subject matter, but you forgot to include your us your readers. Perhaps you should think about this from far more than one angle. Or maybe you shouldnt generalize so considerably. Its better if you think about what others may have to say instead of just going for a gut reaction to the subject. Think about adjusting your own belief process and giving others who may read this the benefit of the doubt.

  2. Hello,
    Badges can be displayed through these sorts of displayers but they can also be displayed on personal sites, Facebook or blogs like WordPress. Those are the kind of three primary areas that we can see right now as the ecosystem.

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