Teen Librarian Toolbox
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Confessions of a Teen Librarian: How To Survive Summer by Christie G

Summer has to be one of the most challenging times for a teen specialist, or any public librarian. Special programs, a massive increase in programs, possible schedule changes, a massive influx of people coming through the doors… and while all of this is wonderful from a stats perspective (increased collection usage, increased participation, increased exposure) it can be extremely stressful for those of us involved. 

Here are some of my tricks to get through the months and keep what sanity I have….

Always make sure that you laugh at least once a day. It can be something funny you find on the internet, a joke book, a funny story, or something else entirely, but laughing will release stress better than anything legal that you can do at work.  Don’t believe me? The Mayo Clinic says so.


There has to be something that can give you a boost during the day- for me, it is a good piece of chocolate. Now, I’m not talking a Kit Kat bar, or even a Milky Way Caramel bar (although they are really good). I’m talking Dove or Godiva. Think about what can give you a little boost and sneak it into your desk to give you a pick-me-up.

All so often in teen and youth services we have to be our biggest cheerleaders. We can hear negativity from other aspects of library world, including our own system and our own branch, so to counteract that, surround yourself with positivity. Print off sayings that will encourage you, or create a board on pinterest to remind yourself of things to pull you out of a funk.
This is two-fold. First, make sure that you actually take your breaks. Youth services are a very busy and involved lot, and a lot of times we feel that we do not have time to take a break during the day- remember what breaks you are legally entitled to, and TAKE THEM. And if you need a break beyond that, find someone and get help- you are not doing yourself or your patrons any favors by being stressed out and hanging on by fingernails.  Second, take a breath and examine is working in your programming and what isn’t. Take notes in the thick of things so that at the end of the summer you can re-evaluate and have detailed ideas about what to do for next year.
Think about it for a minute. You have pulled together a huge program for the summer, with performers and a reading program and coordinating everything. You are more than likely forgoing any summer plans and living and breathing programming and stats and everything in-between. So remember, even if no one shows for something or if there is a complaint, DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY. It may be that the program just didn’t work, for what ever reason (timing, appeal, weather). It may be that someone is going to complain about EVERYTHING because that is their way. You CANNOT make EVERYONE happy, but YOU are doing an AWESOME job.
So what keeps you sane during the summer?  Share in the comments below.

Librarian Confessions: Ender’s Game Reactions

I have a rule that I have followed since the movie version of The Firm came out: never, EVER read the book before the movie if I haven’t already read it. WHY? Because I’m going to be CONSTANTLY comparing the two. If you haven’t read John Grisham’s The Firm, then you won’t be bothered by the huge change in the ending between the book and the movie. And don’t get me started on the major differences between the book and movie version of The First Wives Club. And it’s not just in adult fiction- how many knew someone who was upset by things that were left out of one of the Harry Potter movies? Or Beautiful Creatures

So when I mentioned to both That Guy and Karen that I’ve never read Ender’s Game, by their reactions I knew I was going to have to break my rule. If you didn’t know, Ender’s Game was published in 1985 and written by Orson Scott Card, and won both the Nebula and Hugo Awards. The sequel, Speaker of the Dead, also won the Nebula and Hugo Awards for it’s year, making Card the only author to win both awards back to back. Ender’s Game is being released into theaters this November.

I knew about Card’s viewpoints and opinions before reading Ender’s Game, and knew that there was huge controversy surrounding the book as well (racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.), and went into it with an open mind, and my teen viewpoint in place. The version my library has is published in 2002, and it’s been sanitized from the original (found that out later with a little research):

The cover of the copy that I read, that does not have as much of the objectionable material in it

So what was my reaction to it? I read it all in one day, and fell into the world that Card built. I HAD to find out what was going to happen to Ender, and whether he would survive everything that was being stacked against him. (I admit, it may have helped that I had Harrison Ford’s voice in my head as Colonel Graff and Sir Ben Kingsley’s as Mazar Rackham). I was both captured and horrified. It reminded me a lot of current YA dystopias (Hunger Games, Divergent, The Testing) in that the youth were put into horrific and battle situations where the adults were stepping back and watching, and waiting, and placing hopes and expectations on them. There is still a lot of racism and sexism and homophovia within the book, and I can see it being a hard book to discuss within a classroom content. I’ll be extremely interested to see how they take those issues within the movie; Card is a producer on the movie but did not write the script.

What did I take away from it?


OMG, do the adults suck in this world. His parents are clueless to what they signed their kids up for, nor do they know to what extent their children are doing. I never caught whether or not the Wiggin family was just superior genetics or they were tinkered with (I lean towards tinkered) but you would think that if the I.F. knew how wrong Peter was, they’d keep an eye on him. None of the teachers step in for the fights at any time, and although as the book goes on Graff becomes more of a friendly figure in the book, everything is completely negated by Ender’s “graduation” and Mazer tricking Ender into destroying the Buggers in the last “simulation”. 

Kids are completely expendable in the quest for total destruction of the Buggers. They go through Peter and Valentine in their quest for the ultimate commander, and then toss them aside (never mind their obvious extraordinary intelligence and intensely abnormal personality issues). We never know how many possibilities for the leader of the fleet there were before Ender- Mazar never says, just that there were many before but no one reached the final “simulation”. The adults turn all the kids on each other to hone their fighting abilities, and hide the death of one (he “graduated” and was supposedly returned to his town of Spain) in order to reach the goal- total destruction of the Buggers. Nothing else is important- not the mental health of these kids, not what they can do/become afterwards, not whether they’ll be normal- just total destruction of the Buggers.

Sometimes things come in circles. Karen and I went and saw Star Trek: Into Darkness, and I was really struck by how in the movie Kirk went from full out vengeance and destruction to capture and return for trial based on discussions with Spock and his own internal struggles. In stead of just blasting away, he chooses what we would call the “human” choice and to bring the villain in for trial.
In Ender’s Game, Ender never GETS that chance to have that discussion and choice until it’s far too late. It’s always after things have happened that he gets the chance to reflect- and wish that things were different, that he could go in a different direction. Every fight is forced, and there is no way that he can back away from anything- to do so would be to seal his fate, or to be iced out and send destruction to the human race. Every time he rebels against something, he ends up “winning” the game anyway, and finding the clues to his next challenge. Ender’s Kobayashi Maru if you will, is discovering that his end rebellion destroyed the entire Bugger race. And like Kirk, he is actually given a second chance at the end of Ender’s Game, if he can take it.

Have you read the book? What did you think? Share in the comments below.

Confessions of a Teen Librarian: Holiday Edition with Christie G

There’s been a lot of talk lately in the blogsphere (or maybe I just have been seeing the wrong blogs) about the perceptions and expectations about librarians.  To my mind, there have always been expectations that go with certain aspects of the profession, but that those that work with youth tend to get pigeonholed more than most.

It’s like we’re all to be cut from the same dough, that teen (and youth) librarians and specialists have to like certain things (*cough* Twilight *cough*), to be uber happy and joyful and sugary sweet.  Like this.  And when you’re more like this, it’s BAD.  

Hmmm.  I don’t think so.  You can’t bend your personality into something that it’s not meant to be- it’s not healthy mentally or physically, and it’s definitely not something to model to the youth that we work with on a daily basis.  We all have to put on a public face when dealing with things, but not everyone has an outlet to share them. Whether it’s a journal, blog, vlog, screaming at the wall, a best friend, a significant other, a pet- sometimes you just have to let it out.  And it seems like the holidays mean we have to hide most of all.  So….

I’ll tell you my holiday secrets if you tell me yours in the comments….

Christmas music  
I hate it.  I really do.  Which is really bad as I was in a number of bands in college.  The only song I like is Carol of the Bells, and my favorite version is actually on this little known CD.  And everything else could be lost and I’d be happy.  Especially since I’ve been hearing Christmas music in stores since before Halloween.  However, that will not happen, and it definitely won’t happen in the workplace, so I can at least make my car a Christmas song free zone.  

Holiday scheduling
It stresses me out to no end, and I’m always worried that a. someone’s going to be upset that they’re working a certain day, or b. someone’s going to call in and we’re going to be overly short (as opposed to normally short).  My part time employees do not get paid holidays, so we have to juggle their schedules around so that they can make up hours around holiday plans and second jobs, yet make sure that they don’t lose hours at this job.  And days off for full time employees have to be taken by a certain date.  I’ve been lucky the past few years that my staff have not all wanted the same days, but I have had to re-arrange my own travel plans in years past to accommodate others.  Trust me, and put yourself in your manager’s shoes when you’re looking at the schedule; if you have a good one, they’re doing their best to make everyone’s requests possible.

This time of year seems to be always a dance of what to say and how to say it.  I know that I’ve got kids who are Angels on donation trees, and registered for the city gift giving charities.  I know I have others who are getting tons of presents this year (they’ve already asked for help for when their WiiU is connected).  And I cringe for the days after Christmas when they come to the library and compare who got what, because there will be some who got nothing- and in all my years, I’ve never figured out how to take the sting out of that realization.  And it’s not like I can give them presents, because if I do for one, I have to do for all…  And then we have patrons who would love nothing better than to give us food, or gift certificates, or other things to show how much they appreciate how much we do in the community; it’s a delicate dance to turn things down that don’t fit within the regulations without offending because we are part of their family.

“The Reason For The Season”

Yes, I know that Christmas has Christ in it.  Yes, I am aware that Christianity celebrates the birth of Christ on Christmas, hence the name.  Yes, I know the purported origin of red and white candy canes (and I think the story creepy, BTW).  HOWEVER, I will wish you HAPPY HOLIDAYS not because I am a heathen or blasphemous (yes, I have been called that in the past for doing so) but because I do not know the religion of the person to whom I speak.  You could be Wiccan, Jewish, Buddist, Atheist, Agnostic, Christian, Vulcan, Jedi, or anything, because we as Americans welcome all.  Part of the reason for the country, y’all.  So, if you don’t like my HAPPY HOLIDAYS, don’t wish it back.  But karma’s a bitch.

Holiday Movies
I am very particular about the movies that I like.  My criteria may seem silly, but they’re my preferences, not yours, so that’s OK.  I don’t like It’s a Wonderful Life, The Polar Express, Scrooged, or The Santa Clause and it’s sequels.  I like Charlie Brown, and the original black and white Miracle on 34th Street.  For the rest, give me the funny or twisted ones.  National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Elf, Fred Clause, Four Christmases, Die Hard, The Ref, and Gremlins.  I need the relief from the sugar.

So what are your holiday confessions?  What breaks the cookie cutter on you?  Share in the comments below!