Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

About TLT

So you want to write a guest post for TLT? Start here: TLT Guest Post Guidelines and contact our Guest Post Coordinator, Robin Willis.

Want a book reviewed? Contact Karen Jensen, Amanda MacGregor, Robin Willis or Ally Watkins in the email addresses listed below.

Our Mission

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

Karen Jensen, MLS – Creator, Adminstrator

I have been a Young Adult/Teen Services Librarian for 25 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 was a reviewer for VOYA magazine from 2001 to 2014. From 2009 to 2011 I was a part of the Wild Child Conference board.  For the past 5 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). In addition, I wrote the February 2016 School Library Journal cover story about turning my Teen Space into a Teen Makerspace. I have presented in multiple webinars on topics including making with teens and how to conduct a collection diversity audit. I am the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services published in 2014 from ALA Editions with Heather Booth.

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 are my thoughts and opinions and 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

Robin Willis, MLS – Guest Post Coordinator

I am a Public Librarian in Maryland. I have worked as a school librarian in both elementary and middle schools. I received my undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary and 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. Although I read a wide variety of novels, realistic fiction and fantasy are my favorite genres. I also enjoy anything with an absurd 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 robinkwillis (at) gmail (dot) com – although Twitter is probably quicker.

Amanda MacGregor, MA – Book Reviewer Extraordinaire

I have spent nearly twenty 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, teen and reference librarian, 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 joined School Library Journal as a reviewer in 2014. I currently work in an elementary library. My main areas of interest in young literature include depictions of LGBTQIA+ youth, sex and sexuality, mental health, and social justice issues. I live outside of St. Paul, Minnesota with my software architect husband, our loquacious kid, and two elderly dachshunds named after children’s book characters. I’m represented by literary agent Andrea Cascardi at Transatlantic Agency. You can find me on Twitter @CiteSomething and posting on my own blog at amandamacgregor.net. 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

Ally Watkins, MLIS – Collecting Comics

I’m a a Library Consultant at the state library agency in Mississippi, working with public libraries on all matter of topics including policy, collection development, and youth services. I have preciously been a youth services librarian. I’ve worked in libraries for 8 years. 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


Other People Who Help Make TLT Happen

 Want to see your name here and be a semi-regular contributor? Email Karen Jensen.

Cindy Shutts, MLIS – Cindy Crushes Programming

cindyCindy 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. Cindy shares her awesome teen programs regularly as part of our ongoing Cindy Crushes Programming series.

Lisa Krok, MLIS 

 Lisa Krok, MLIS, MEd, is the adult and teen services manager at Morley Library and a former teacher in the Cleveland, Ohio, area. She is the author of Novels in Verse for Teens: A Guidebook with Activities for Teachers and Librarians, forthcoming from ABC-CLIO in February 2020. Lisa’s passion is reaching marginalized teens and reluctant readers through young adult literature. She was appointed to the 2019-2020 YALSA Presidential Advisory Task Force, served two years on the Quick Picks for Reluctant Reader’s team, and is on the BFYA committee. Lisa can be found being bookish and political on Twitter @readonthebeach.

Christine Lively, School Librarian – RevolTeens

Christine Lively a school librarian in Virginia. I read voraciously, exchange ideas with students, and am a perpetual student. I raise monarch butterflies, cook, clean infrequently and enjoy an extensive hippo collection. Christine blogs at https://hippodillycircus.com/ and you can follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/XineLively

Riley, Teen Reviewer

I am a senior in high school and an avid reader. I have been reviewing books on this blog since 2012. I love musical theatre and listen to show tunes a lot. I also love murder books (both fiction and nonfiction), and she wants to go to college to be a forensic scientist after high school. Reading is one of my favorite things to do, so I must put that hobby to good use for my mom.

Scout, Tween Reviewer

Scout is going into the 6th grade and is excited to finally be able to officially join TLT. She has dyslexia, which she chooses to talk about openly here at TLT to raise awareness and help erase the stigma, and though she has struggled to read she discovered graphic novels and loves them. A couple of year ago Scout created #OperationBB in which she works hard to make sure that kids get to own books of their own. Scout loves space, soccer, basketball, photography and TikTok.

Meet Our Teen Advisory Board

Join the TLT Teen Advisory Board!

Lexi, Teen Reviewer

lexibioI’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.


Ky (aka The Bestie), Teen Reviewer

kyminionMocha Frappes are life. Volleyball player 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.


Past Contributors

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.

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!

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.

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.

Julie Stivers, MLS

julieI’m currently the librarian at Mount Vernon Middle School, a public alternative school in Raleigh, NC. I believe in inclusive libraries and have presented on diverse, reflective youth literature at conferences including YALSA’s Young Adult Literature Symposium and the National Conference of African American Librarians and Librarianship. My work has been published in scholarly journals such as School Libraries Worldwide and Knowledge Quest and on youth literature-centered websites such as YALSA, School Library Journal, and American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL). I am the co-author of two chapters in the upcoming book, Libraries, Literacy, and African-American Youth (Libraries Unlimited, 2016).
I graduated from Wake Forest University with a BA in Sociology (1994) and from SILS at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with my MSLS (2015). Librarians often speak in the language of current favorite authors so let me say hello: I love Matt de la Peña, Leigh Bardugo, Daniel José Older, RIck Riordan, Rainbow Rowell, and Kwame Alexander.
Follow me on Twitter at @BespokeLibthoughts expressed there are my own and will often include issues of social justice and equity, ideas to chip away at the literary canon, and frequent gushing about my students.

Alanna Graves, MLIS

alannagravesinstaI recently graduated from University of Illinois in May 2015 with my Master’s in Library and Information Science.  During my last semester of graduate school, I decided to pack my bags and move across the country to start my professional career in Teen Services in Cape May County, NJ.  I love to read, play video games, do puzzles, and listen to This American Life, all while drinking copious amounts of caffeine. http://www.alannagraves.com/
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian

 Michelle Biwer, MLIS

michellebiwerMichelle is a Teen Services Librarian and Shelving Supervisor in Maryland. She received her MLIS from the University of​ Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2016 and her BA in Sociology from the College of William and Mary. In her free time she loves attending musical theatre, listening to podcasts, and bingeing sci-fi TV shows.​





Natalia Korsavidis

nataliekNatalie Korsavidis has been with the Farmingdale Public Library since 1998. She has spoken at Long Island Pop Con and New York Comic Con. A passionate reader, she enjoys reading Young Adult fiction, romance, fantasy, and quirky non-fiction.






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.orgfacebook.com/ericdevineauthor, or Twitter: @eric_devine


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

TLT was feautred in VOYA’s Trending in Youth Culture: The Best Blogs and Sites for Youth Advocates (February 2012)

TLT was a Shortlisted Finalist in the 2012 Edublogs Awards

Karen Jensen and Christie Gibrich were featured on the Texas Sweethearts and Scoundrels website

Library Lions: Roar in the New Year

YALSA Advocacy Spotlight: Karen Jensen

OLC Small Libraries . . . BIG Ideas

Chicago Tribune: Scowler by Daniel Kraus, Karen is quoted

PEW Internet and American Life Project, Karen is quoted 

Kent State University: Alum in Texas Creates Blog to Help Other Librarians 

Tweens, Teens, and Time Lords: Doctor Who in the Library at School Library Journal (11/23/2013)

Who Loves Doctor Who? (Proquest Share This blog)

School Library Journal: Teen Tech Week

Molly Wrapped Up in Books: My Favorite Bookish Blogs

Want to follow a YA Librarian’s Blog? Check out some of the hottest YA blogs on the web right here! TLT is listed

28 Must Follow Tumblrs for Fans of YA (Book Riot, The #SVYALit Project Tumblr is mentioned)

Tackling Mental Health Through YA Lit | School Library Journal

Library Journal Maker Workshop Showcase

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 kjensenmls@yahoo.com

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)