Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

12 Blogs of TLT: Terrible Trivium

If you haven’t noticed my intellectual crush on Anne Ursu by now, you haven’t been paying attention. Terrible Trivium is Anne Ursu’s Tumblr account and it is a resource for an amazing amount of thoughtful critique on issues that are close to my heart, including literature for children of all ages, book publishing, and many societal concerns. Anne’s writing here doesn’t just make me think, it makes me want to think more deeply. And oh, how I’d love to be able to express my thoughts as clearly and articulately as she does. And be as open and honest as she is.

Please read her thoughts on a book for children called Don’t Call me Fat, and tell me that it is not the most eloquent explanation ever of the damage we do to ourselves and our children as a culture by making people feel bad about their bodies. Read her response to the vast number of ill-informed popular articles about YA literature and how it is ruining us, and tell me you do not want to stand and cheer. My favorite part of that last post:

We do not fear childishness, and so we write for children. We write with intention. We write with awareness. We write with artistry. And sometimes we write about girls. And in this culture, as the essays above prove, writing about girls is a political act.

Anne Ursu, I am in love with your brain. Please accept this most humble blog post as a token of my love. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Here’s a Recap of the 12 Blogs of 2014 To Date:

R. David Lankes

A Chair, A Fireplace & A Teacozy


Two Bossy Dames

Fat Girl Reading

Mary Had a Little Book Blog

The Mary Sue

You can find the 12 Blogs from 2011, 2012 and 2013 Here


12 Blogs (or not) of 2014: Two Bossy Dames

Every so often, something so wonderful, so amazing, comes along that we have to include it in a 12 Blogs post, even though it’s not technically a blog. In this case it started on Tumblr (technically a blog platform) and then morphed into a newsletter with an accompanying Twitter account. The brainchild of Margaret Willison and Sophie Brookover, Two Bossy Dames is a weekly newsletter now – you can subscribe here.

Margaret (also known as @MrsFridayNext) is an aspiring children’s librarian who appears on a semi regular basis on the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast as their designated readers advisory expert. She is possibly best known for her Twitter feed, though, which she has aptly described as a 24 hour slumber party. Sophie (also known as @sophiebiblio) is a librarian and mom who describes herself as being ‘at the intersection of value and fun.’ She has the added advantage of having my very most favorite name.

Together, these two ladies put out a weekly newsletter covering all things pop culture with a special focus on those things most interesting to their projected readership, which, mirroring the listenership of NPR, seems to be heavily library culture influenced. One of their recent newsletters was devoted almost entirely to their conversation regarding Taylor Swift’s newest release, 1989. 

One of their special weekly features is a segment titled “Twee as Hell.” It is exactly what you might expect. Highlighting their most recent finds amongst the never-ending supply of cute on the Internet, the dames have wormed their way into my heart of hearts. I mean really, how can you resist cat shaped marshmallows?

Another concept that has been reoccurring in the newsletter is ‘hygge.’ A key part of Danish culture, hygge is a term that implies an extreme sense of coziness. I really can’t do it justice here, but it seems to revolve around community, closeness, food, and a general sense of supreme well-being. If you really want to understand it, their newsletter archive is the place for you.

Covering everything from their ‘visual crushes of the week,’ to music, to current events, Sophie and Margaret are delightful (and sometimes a bit snarky) in their detailed evaluation of what has been happening in current culture. I cannot recommend them and their newsletter highly enough. Enjoy!


12 Blogs of 2014: A Chair, A Fireplace, & A Tea Cozy

Liz Burns

As Karen, Robin, Amanda, and I were deciding which blogs each of us was going to highlight this year, I looked back over the list from years past and realized that we’d not yet talked about Liz Burns’ broadly useful, always thoughtful A Chair, A Fireplace, & A Tea Cozy. Maybe it’s because we figured everyone already knows how great it is? In any case, Liz Burns’ blog is one that I can always count on for it’s insight, pointed opinions balanced with diplomacy, and palpable love for her subject matter.

Liz is an eloquent writer, and her ability to slalom effortlessly between personal connections and impressions and more academic, broader societal implications as she analyzes and discusses pop culture and media is admirable. I appreciate her unwavering defense of childhood as important, and of girlhood in particular, as valid and worthy of respect. I’ve appreciated Liz’s work for a long time and I’ve been remiss in not saying so till now.

12 Blogs of 2014: R. David Lankes

great communities build great librariesTruth be told, I’m not an avid blog reader. Since the demise of Google Reader, I’ve not devoted much time to finding a new tool to help me organize and track my blog reading. The blogs I do read belong to those people who I can count on to get me thinking and give me some great ideas, and few make me think more than R. David Lankes.

Now that I’ve got some distance from being a full time student, I’m realizing how much I miss the discourse of being in the classroom. I miss the thought provoking readings, the vigorous discussion, learning not just from professors, but from peers. David has, with his blog, recreated some of this. He’s an academic who knows and appreciates the boots on the ground work that librarians really do, and the work we might do, we could do, and we want to do.

Boring PatientI came to know David through his ILEAD keynotes in March, June, and October (which are absolutely required viewing if you are despairing about the importance of libraries). If you do watch these keynotes, you’ll learn about David’s personal journey through illness and into health, which he shares more of in The Boring Patient.

And if you haven’t visited his blog before, this week is a great time to do so. He’s beginning a series of Radical Conversations on New Librarianship, and we’re all invited to join in. This week the topic is Defining a Library. It gives me a thrill like I used to get while sitting in the classroom of a particularly inspiring professor, and I’m so glad I can participate at my leisure with the benefit of my years of practical library work. It’s the perfect way for me to recapture what I loved about being in school, without actually being in school.

12 Blogs of Christmas: A Beautiful Mess

One thing I definitely need to have on my blogroll are craft blogs.  You never know when the perfect craft idea will come along and suddenly – presto magic – you have a complete program idea ready to go.  So we are wrapping up the 12 Blogs of Christmas with one of my favorite craft blogs.

Blog #12: A Beautiful Mess

A Beautiful Mess is a crafting/DIY blog done by Elsie & Emma.  That’s really about all I know about them.  This blog has a such a clean layout with a great graphic presentation.  Also, lots of great ideas.  Their Instagram Canvas Wall Art post started a revolution in both my home decorating and programming.  I am quite literally obsessed with this project and if you are in any way related to me, then you got some type of Instagram Canvas Art from me in 2013.  And if you are one of my teens, you probably attended my program on 10 Things You Can Do with a Blank Canvas (part 1 and part 2).

A Beautiful Mess has sections on crafts, photography, recipes, decor, fashion and beauty.  The crafts and decor sections are most usual in program planning inspiration, but I like learning about the photography.
Some of my favorite posts include:

This Family Photo Bookshelf Project

This post on making your own foam stamp

They have a whole collection of posts on book making

This post on displaying photos in your home (some of which would work at the library or as a program)

And this post on making a pinhole camera, which totally counts as tech programming in my book 

There is also an A Beautiful Mess iPhone App, which I have not used so I can’t give an opinion on it.   

12 Blogs of Christmas: Diane Ravitch’s Blog

A someone involved in the school system, Robin is very interested in the topic of education.  We have a lot of behind the scenes discussions about what is happening in education, and post frequently about how our schools and our world are failing our kids.  In fact, just last week Christie went on a tear about how we our failing our kids.  So it is no surprise to be that one of Robin’s blogs has an education focus.
“A site to discuss better education for all.” 

You may recognize her from her appearances on The Daily Show with John Stewart. Diane Ravitch is a professor at NYU and author of multiple books – and one of the sanest contemporary voices on the state of public education. Her blog is invaluable to those of us who wish to stay current with the public education debate and educate ourselves on priority talking points. Her links to other articles are well worth following.


5 Posts to Check Out:

PISA Rankings are Utterly Wrong and Meaningless
Poverty Influences Brain Development in Children
U. S. Has a Poverty Crisis, Not a School Crisis
Can Schools End Poverty?
Dasani: The New York Times Should Win a Pulitzer Prize for This Powerful Series

– Robin

12 Blogs of Christmas: Terrible Minds

The last 3 blogs of the 12 Blogs of Christmas – though certainly not the least – are brought to you by Robin.  Robin joined us earlier this year to add a school librarian perspective to TLT.  Plus, we like her.

Blog #10: Terrible Minds

Chuck Wendig is the author of numerous adult novels and books on writing. He recently released Under the Empyrean Sky – the first in a planned YA trilogy – which got a very positive review in School Library Journal. He first came to my notice as someone frequently tweeted by Maureen Johnson, but I’ve since started following him on Twitter myself. His humorous anecdotes about his toddler aside, Chuck has a well reasoned opinion on almost everything related to the world of publishing, writing, pop culture, etc. If you want to stay informed, this is a wonderful place to start. If you’re not put off by profanity. Lots of profanity. I suggest you start here, with his essay “25 Things You Should Know About Young Adult Fiction.”

12 Blogs of Christmas: The Daring Librarian

One of the blogs I adore, and one of the people that I completely admire and hope to be like one day is The Daring Librarian.


AKA Gwyneth Jones, she is one of the most vibrant people online that I follow, and has awesome energy and creativity- and when I need a pick-me-up, I start browsing through her site and her twitter. Her blog isn’t just about one thing- it’s about EVERYTHING going on within her sphere, and I actually love that. For example, one day it can be about using QR codes, while another day it’s about a recipe for your holiday party.

– Christie

12 Blogs of Christmas: Women Write About Comics (Seriously, a lot)

Blog #8: Women Write About Comics (Seriously, a lot)

I adore comics. I mean, seriously love them. I read them, I watch movies made from them, I follow story lines and alternate time lines and research them. Gail Simone and other female comic writers are personal heroes of mine. So it should come as no surprise that one of my favorite blogs is 

Women Write About Comics.

Made up of 11 female contributors who love comics more than me, they tackle everything from breaking news stories and events to featuring continuing columns about the tougher issues in comics like Feminism/Fandom and Race and Sexism.

12 Blogs of Christmas: Justin the Librarian

I love reading about all the wonderful, inventive stuff other libraries are doing, and dreaming about what I could do if I had their money. (Dear Santa, please give me an unlimited black American Express and send the bill to some gazillionare who won’t care). One of my favorite librarians to follow (working at one of the libraries that are doing awesome things, and I don’t say that just because I know one of them) is Justin The Librarian.


I love how he’s not only talking about the wonderful makerspace stuff that they’re doing, but showing us HOW he’s doing it- sharing the actual CODE for the tweeting bear (hey, when I get my Pi’s in, can my dinosaur be tweet buddies with your bear?). Additionally, he shows day-in-the-life posts not only of his family but of the library as well

– Christie