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My Top 10 Posts, a Celebration of 10 years by Karen Jensen

There are 4,561 posts on this blog that have been written over the course of the past 10 years. That’s a little over an average of 1 a day for 10 years, which seems kind of cool. A lot of them, but not even half of them honestly, have been written by yours truly. Technically, my name is attached to over 3,000 of those posts but a lot of them are guest posts. Some of them, especially the Sunday Reflections posts, are deeply personal. In many more I talk about my favorite books, teen issues, library issues, and share my favorite programs. Today I’m going to take a walk down memory and share some of my favorite posts with you. 10 of them, to be precise.

2011 : Don’t Underestimate the Value of “Just Hanging Out”

The very first post on this blog appeared on July 16, 2011. It was basically a hey there, we’re just getting started post. I had no idea at the time that we would be here 10 years later. A lot of that first year involved a lot of very technical posts. But in the midst of all those programming statistics and marketing posts, I talked about the value of hanging out. It’s a philosophy I still believe very strongly in. I’ve changed my mind about a lot of things over my professional career, but never on this. We don’t always need big programs with big budgets, sometimes we need to give teens a time and a space to come hang out, be teens, and not be micromanaged by the adults in their lives.

2012 : A Letter to A. S. King

TLT began in 2011 and in 2012, I had the most profound reading experience of my life. It was around Mother’s Day and I had just read Ask the Passengers by A. S. King when I went for a walk and saw a little yellow flower. I began writing a letter to A. S. King in my head and it wouldn’t leave my noggin so I turned that letter into a blog post. That book continues to be the most transformative reading experience of my life and little yellow flowers still make me think of A. S. King. And as you know, Riley really loves the books of A. S. King as well and sharing that reading journey with her over the teen years was a profound gift.

2013 : What’s It Like to be a 14 Year Old Girl

In 2014, we kicked off the Sexual Violence in YA Lit project where we dedicated the year talking about sexual violence in the life of teens. That discussion was and is very personal to me because I am a survivor of teenage sexual violence. The groundwork for that project began back in 2013 when I started sharing my personal journey. I am also a person with an eating disorder. So I wrote this post to talk about what it is like to be a 14 year old girl. It was personal, yet sadly in many ways so very universal. And that’s why I blog here, to share hard truths, to advocate for teens, and to try and do my part to change the world for today’s teens, but also for past teen me.

2014 : Dear Media, Let Me Help You Write That Article on YA Literature

Riley, a teen, reading YA lit

In the early 2000s, a lot of people were writing about YA literature, many of whom obviously had not read a lot of YA literature. It was a frustrating thing to behold. So I got cranky and wrote this post pointing out a lot of the errors I saw in their literature and asking them to please please please, if they were going to write about YA literature, talk to some teens and perhaps some YA/Teen librarians. I have a couple of times been interviewed by the press about YA literature, but the truth is a large majority of people still seem to write about YA without reading a lot of YA. And if, in the year 2021, your article is still talking about Harry Potter and Twilight and The Hunger Games as your primary examples, I assure you, you’re doing it wrong.

2015 : Doing a Collection Diversity Audit

I’m going to be honest, this post in this year is a bit of a cheat because it was technically written in 2017. But the foundations of this post began in 2015 when I started doing my first collection diversity audit. At the time, I didn’t even know that was what I was doing. I just knew that I wanted to find out if I was ordering a diverse number of titles for my teens. I wanted to take what I knew from working in retail, inventory, and apply it to collection development so I could determine for myself if I was doing a good job or if I needed to do better. The reality was, of course, that I needed to do better. Over the next 2 years I would stumble my way into doing collection diversity audits, a topic that I speak on frequently. I believe that every person who buys books should do them to help hold themselves accountable. We all assume that we’re doing a good job, but the reality is that very few of us are.

2016 : If You Build It, Will They Come? The Story of a MakerSpace Miracle

The Teen making slime

2016 was an amazing year for me, professionally. I was back working at my first library and working with my beloved mentor. And I had just turned my teen space into a Teen MakerSpace. Also, my journey was on the cover of School Library Journal! As long as I live, the Teen MakerSpace will be one of my greatest personal and professional achievements. I loved everything about it and getting to interact with my teens in the ways that it provided. I have moved from that library and I miss it, but I will always hold such fond memories of the trials and triumphs of this journey with me.

2017 : Things I Never Learned in Library School: The Best Laid Plans Still Fail

Thing 2 in the midst of her Flash fandom

Early on, I began a series of posts called Things I Never Learned in Library School. I love this series because it is a good framework for talking about random professional topics and putting them together under a framework that makes sense. 2014 through 2016 were banner years for me professionally and personally: I wrote and published a professional book with Heather Booth, I was named a Library Journal Mover and Shaker, I went back to my home library and started a Teen MakerSpace, and I wrote an article about it that got me the cover story in School Library Journal. But the reality is, that even in the midst of our biggest moments of success we can still experience failure and I think it’s always important to be honest. Many libraries were having a lot of success putting together library Cons and being a person who loves fandom, I wanted to as well. I came, I saw, I tried . . . and I failed. I have never successfully hosted a library con. It’s a pretty challenging thing to do and kudos to everyone has. You have my utmost respect. But I found a way to turn my failure into a new idea, and that’s important to. Not everything is right for our libraries. It’s okay to fail. What matters is what we learn from it and what we do next.

2018 : Being a Librarian Did Not Prepare Me for Having a Child with Dyslexia

As early as Kindergarten, I suspected that Thing 2 had dyslexia. Tim and I had to fight hard to get her tested and every other step along the way to make sure she got the services she needs to be a reader. Upon reflection I realized that in all my years working in libraries and even working on my library degree, we talk very little about Dyslexia, and as people dedicated to getting kids reading that seems a bit odd. So now, even though I am by no means an expert on Dyslexia, I advocate hard for better understanding and more discussions of Dyslexia in libraries. 1 in 5 kids have Dyslexia, we need to talk about it. You can find out more at my Dyslexia Dashboard.

2019 : A Brief History of YA, an infographic

We talk a lot about teens, teen issues, programming and library issues at this blog, but behind it all is a love of books. Books are what makes a library a library and not a community center or recreation center. So we talk a lot about books here. What you may not know, is that creating RA tools is one of my passions. Posters, displays, etc – I love it all. In 2019, I made an infographic sharing the history of YA fiction. It’s one of my favorite creations.

2020 : Things I Never Learned in Library School, Librarianing in the Time of the Pandemic

In 2020, the world changed. And everything I knew about librarianship changed. Our libraries shut down, my kids did at school at home, and we wrestled with things I never could have imagined. Though 2020 has been hard, 2021 has truly been harder for me personally. I’m really proud of the work we have done here in the pandemic talking about the challenges to our field during all of this, like sharing virtual programming ideas and holding space for hard conversations. That’s why I started this blog and honestly, I’m so honored every day that I get to do this. It is so important to me, as a librarian, as a parent, as a person trying to survive this new world with the rest of you.

And finally . . .

The Animaniacs Guide to Being a (Faboo!) Young Adult Librarian

We’re going to skip a favorite post from 2021 because here we are, smack dab in the middle of it. Plus, I wanted to share one of my favorite all time posts of all time. Look, by nature, I am not a funny person. I am melancholy and deathly serious about all things. But this one time . . . I was funny! I have always been a fan of the Animaniacs and I wrote a post talking about YA librarianship in the context of the Animaniacs. So I’m going to end this 10 year wrap up with that post and hope that you will remember: One time, Karen was funny.

A TLT Infographic from 2016

As I have combed through the blog trying to think of my favorite posts, I have been reminded of so many posts that I had forgotten about. I am so proud and honored and humbled to have been able to share this journey with you for the last 10 years. If I’m being honest, the beginning of this year has been so hard that I talked about ending TLT. But this look back has reminded me that I have done some good things in this world. I haven’t changed it, but maybe in holding space for hard conversations and being honest as a person and a librarian, just maybe we’ve made it a little bit better.

If you would like to share your favorite posts, memories or words of encouragement with us, please leave a comment. And as always . . . thank you.

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