Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Cindy Crushes Programming: #LibraryCrate – A Library Subscription Service, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

Photo by Kiya Morrison

We have been working on this project at White Oak Library District for a long time. We have had quite a few librarians who have worked on this project and of course our supervisors and managers.  I first wanted to do this when I went to a presentation on book boxes at the Young Adult Services Forum (ILA). A few libraries in our area have done this program. 

What is #LIBRARYCRATE?

#LIBRARYCRATE is a three-month library book box subscription. When you sign up for the service you will receive two to three library Young Adult (YA) books picked specifically for you to check out each month. While you must return the library books and subscription box, each month you will receive special mystery gifts to keep.

Who can sign up for #LIBRARYCRATE?

While #LIBRARYCRATE is a subscription service for Young Adult books that typically target a teen audience, both adults and teen may sign up for #LIBRARYCRATE. Just know that all the books that are selected for the #LIBRARYCRATE will be YA books.

We had to start with the box. The box was something we looked for. We wanted our box to be able to fit 2-3 YA books in it. The box size we ended up going with 12x 9 inches. We had to also come up with a name. We like many libraries love to have meetings and were able to come up with the name in one of our teen meetings. We choose #librarycrate.  We loved it because people could post about it online using the hashtag.  We then asked Kiya Morrison to come up with a box design. She is our marketing person. She is amazing.

Here are the two decisions we choose.

We then worked on how the box would work. We had our wonderful tech services department make barcodes for every box.  We have it as a standard checkout period for the box, but it cannot be renewed because we will need the box for the next patron.  We have instructions in each box for the patron about what to do with the box and also a survey that Kiya made that looks like an old book card that would go in old library books.

We put the event on our library calendar online. We used evanced and Faith Healy, my coworker, made it an event ribbon which covered two months. We also posted #librarycrate to our webpage. http://whiteoaklibrary.org/teen-promotional-events-one

We included a survey to sign up for #librarycrate online. We asked patrons to fill it out. Not every question is required but most are. Faith has added some really useful questions. Faith also created a QR  for the survey. It has been very useful.

The questions included are:

  • Name First
  • Name Last
  • Your Library Card Number
  • What subscription period are you signing up for? We have this service in quarters.
  • Your Pickup Branch
  • Do you have any food allergies? (This is has been really useful for religious restrictions also)

Select at least 3 of Your Favorite Genres to Read!

  • Action Adventure
  • Audiobooks
  • Biographies
  • Contemporary
  • Drama
  • Fantasy
  • Fairy Tales
  • Graphic Novels
  • Historical
  • Horror
  • Humor
  • LGBTQ+
  • Manga
  • Mystery
  • Non-fiction
  • Romance
  • Science Fiction
  • Start a Series
  • Superheroes
  • Thriller
  • Other: Fill in the blank

Select at least 1 Genre You Don’t Want to Read. *

  • Action Adventure
  • Audiobooks
  • Biographies
  • Contemporary
  • Drama
  • Fantasy
  • Fairy Tales
  • Graphic Novels
  • Historical
  • Horror
  • Humor
  • LGBTQ+
  • Manga
  • Mystery
  • Non-Fiction
  • Romance
  • Science Fiction
  • Start a Series
  • Superheroes
  • Thriller
  • I don’t have a genre I won’t read!

Other:

Any themes that you would like to avoid?  (This is one of the most useful questions)

  • No
  • Drug Use
  • Violence
  • Sexual Assault
  • Sex
  • Other:

Who are your favorite YA authors?

List a few of your favorite books.

List a few of your favorite fandoms. Example: Disney, Marvel, Mermaids, Dragons, etc.

List a few of your favorite characters.

List of few of your favorite literary tropes. Examples: The Chosen One, Fake Dating, Love Triangle etc.

What are your favorite TV shows?

Any else you would like to add?

This program is a lot of work, but it has been one of my favorites because we get to do Reader’s Advisory. We keep track of our picks in an excel spreadsheet and add columns for each month. If teens or adults renew we keep their records. We give them more time to pick up their box. You have to work with your Circulation Department to find a method that works for you. I am so lucky our circulation department is so awesome.  We put a hold on the box and copy the barcodes of the books and tape the barcodes on the box. This way we do not ruin the surprise of the box. We find this adds excitement. One tool I use is common sense media as a way to try to find books that fit the criteria. If a teen does not want sex in their book, this website lets me know what does go in the book. We have had a lot of 7th graders sign up and that do not want sex in their books sometimes. I want to make sure I pick the right books for the right readers. I also try to make sure to include a lot of books by authors of color. This has worked out well because the teens and adults have told me they love finding these authors who are often new to them. I love connecting readers with books.

Have you tried this at your library? What have you learned?

See Also:

https://www.ila.org/publications/ila-reporter/article/101/book-box-how-a-cardboard-box-became-our-trendiest-teen-program

Cindy Shutts, MLIS

Cindy is passionate about teen services. She loves dogs, pro-wrestling, Fairy tales, mythology, and of course reading. Her favorite books are The Hate U Give, Catching FIre, The Royals, and everything by Cindy Pon. She loves spending times with her dog Harry Winston and her niece and nephew. Cindy Shutts is the Teen Services Librarian at the White Oak Library District in IL and she’ll be joining us to talk about teen programming. You can follow her on Twitter at @cindysku.

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