Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Join the TLT Teen Advisory Board!


Did you know we have a Teen Advisory Board here at TLT? We do! We currently have 6 active TAB members and they do a variety of things like review books, share teen culture, and talk about teen issues with us. Several of our TAB members graduated or dropped out last year, so as we head into fall we are looking for a few more teen voices to help us help libraries serve teens. All voices are welcome, but we are especially interested in more diverse voices as our TAB is very white teen girl at the moment and there are a lot of viewpoints that aren’t represented. We would also like to have representation from all over the U.S., as many of our members are currently located near a TLT member. But since things can be done remotely, we’d love to have more geographic diversity as well.

Read More About TLT and Our TAB Here

At the end of the day, what we want is to hear from teens. As teen services librarians, we do our best work when we talk with and listen to our service base – teens.

We ask that TLT TAB members submit one post per month. It can be whatever type of article you like. For example, The Teen reviews for TLT, and she developed her Post It Note reviews.



The Bestie and The Teen do ARC Parties, giving us snap teen judgments of books based on their covers, titles and synopsis.


Lexi reviewed pretty regularly – oh how I miss her – and loved getting all the books and swag. She wrote pretty long and thoughtful reviews with her own point of view.


Others have posted about YouTubers, talked about issues, and more. Libraries aren’t just about books and your posts don’t have to be just book reviews, although we obviously do like book reviews because – hello – librarians!

Here are the requirements:

You need to be a teen

You need parental permission

You need a nickname, a short bio and a headshot (which will appear on the About TLT page under TLT TAB)

You need a monthly post

You need access to the Internet and the ability to share a post via email (your public library can help you with this)

You need to be willing to attend a quarterly virtual meeting or group chat

Here’s what you get:

You get to be as creative as you want to be. It doesn’t have to be a written post. You can submit a video, do bullet lists and more. Think outside the box and express yourself in ways that mean something to you while you talk about things that mean something to you.

If you want to review books, we help hook you up with books, often before they are even published.

You’ll also get to express yourself, be creative, and speak for teens.

You’ll brush up on writing and tech skills, maybe even use it as an opportunity to learn some new ones.

And when it comes time, I will sign your forms for school asking for service hours and write those recommendation letters for jobs or college. TLT is a part of the School Library Journal blog network so we have a little bit of street cred. We also have millions of page views. It looks good on a college application.

Most importantly, you’ll get to be heard!

So what next:

So if you are interested, contact me at kjensenmls at yahoo dot com and look over the following application/contract/submission guidelines.

TLT TAB Application


In Our Mailbox: How to resurrect a long dead TAG?

Many of us have had this problem at one point or another. Having a TAG (or TAB, or YAAC, or Teen Council – whatever you want to call it) is drummed into our heads as The Thing to do in order to get teen input on library services.  But sometimes they fizzle, sometimes you burn out, and sometimes there’s an interest, but it’s unfocused and needs some direction.  An established librarian in a new position, here is reader Sarah’s dilemma:

My library at one time had an active and thriving Young Adult Advisory Council, but from what I’m hearing, interest waned, and it sort of died a natural death sometime during the previous (retired) librarian’s tenure. I’ve had some recent inquiries by teens interested in joining it (they never took the information about it off the website) and my director is definitely interested in resurrecting it, but is leaving the details up to me. I was hoping to get the benefit of your experience working with teens and see if you had any ideas or suggestions?

I have a great group of summer teen volunteers that I’m hoping to interest in being part of the YAAC once school starts back, but I don’t want it to be just a “show up, eat pizza, gripe about school and life, go home” social club. I am toying with the idea of setting it up as simultaneously a Harry Potter Alliance chapter, because I love their focus on citizenship and doing good in the community and the world if I can get my director to go for it.

Sarah, I think you’re actually in a great position here to start something wonderful and cool.  Here’s what you have going for you:

You’re new in your position 

Everyone expects new employees to shake things up a bit. You can use this more pronounced flexibility to either try out something new and radical, or revitalize what used to be there with your own spin.

Your administration supports you

Holy cow – how great is this?! You’ve been given the go-ahead to deal with the details. I’m going to assume that this go-ahead comes hand in hand with the full support, understanding, and dare we hope funding of your director.

You’ve got kids who are interested already, and more you can tap

This is so key, especially when starting up a program that will rely heavily on teen leadership and participation. You can easily take a chance on whether or not kids will come to a one-off holiday program, but starting up a TAB or other ongoing program, you really need an interest base if it’s going to take off. You already know you have an interest base, and you have all of those SRP volunteers that you can invite too. They’ve demonstrated an interest in and dedication to the library, and hopefully a track record of showing up when they say they will, so you’re totally set.

You have an idea of what they can do and why they’d want to do it.

 Everyone wants teens to have a voice, but not everyone wants to actually listen to them. Everyone wants us to have TABs, but not everyone is able to give teens the kind of autonomy that they need to make that stand for Teen Advisory Board instead of just… Teens Afterschool & Bored. The most successful TABs I’ve ever had a hand in have been groups with a real purpose. There was always time for fun and snacks and an end of  the year party, but these were groups that thrived because they knew their time at the library was well spent: they were there doing something they couldn’t do elsewhere and they wanted to do together. Starting up a Harry Potter Alliance, or a Nerdfighter meetup, or a book reviewing group, or NICU cap knitting circle, or furniture selection committee during renovation, or a technology discussion group — these are reasons for teens to come to the library and keep coming back. I say go for it.
But how to get it off the ground? You asked for suggestions, and here are a few:

Create a link between the club and the mission of the library 

Chances are, whichever task you and your teens choose for the club, the link will be there in the form of a phrase like “lifelong learning” or “serving the needs of the community.” You just need to elucidate that link. 

Find a few moles

Moles, key participants, liaisons — call them what you want, you’ll have better luck if you can get a few kids on your side right off the bat. Let them lead you, trust their ideas, and then let them bring their friends and classmates to you. The buy-in is always better if they know they need you.

Report on your successes … and failures

Be genuine in your reports to the director. If you have the support of admin, consider them allies. Share your excitement with them when you have excellent meetings, and show your vulnerability and disappointment and problem solving skills when things don’t go the way you hoped and you have to change gears. It sounds like you may be a department of one, which can feel like a heavy burden to bear, but remember that this makes you agile. If the path you’re on isn’t working, pivot and change directions. Chances are good the teens will follow.

If you or anyone else in your situation wants more in-depth information on teen leadership and revitalizing TABs, I highly recommend Amy Alessio’s chapter, “Keeping the Teen Advisory Board Relevant—and Real: New Clubs, Themes, and Attitudes” in our new book The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services. Amy has a really great, down to earth approach with her teens, and has been able to reshape and revitalize her teen groups into dynamic, purposeful, popular programs for years now. 

Good luck! Let us know how it goes too!


The Simon Teen Tastemakers Event at ALA: What the teens said and how you can use this idea as a program

At ALA 2013 this year, Heather and I took a group of teens to a Simon Teen event that was really quite genius.  In fact, it would make a fun programming idea.

TLT coblogger Heather Booth lives in the Chicago area, so she was on the local events committee.  One of the things that she was responsible for was finding groups of teens to attend a special Tastemakers event hosted by Simon and Schuster and when Heather asked if I wanted to go, I of course said yes.  It was a nobrainer.  That evening Heather hopped on a train with 3 local teens and we met up with a few other groups of teens.  Each group had one or two adult chaperones, but this event was FOR teens.

Find out more at www.pulseit.com

When we arrived each teen got a passport and there were several stations inside which they were to visit and get a stamp.  The stations were set up as follows:

Get a bag and stuff if full of ARCs
Vote on the September book for the Pulse It online book club
Get The Mortal Instruments movie swag
Vote between two book covers
Look, more free books!
A booktrailer station

And then they had an opportunity to talk with author Ellen Hopkins.  One of our teens provided the highlight of the night when she realized what Ellen Hopkins was talking about when she answered that Necrophilia is the one taboo thing she wouldn’t right about.  You can read Heather’s post about it here.

But what I want to talk to you about is the book covers.  First, this was an awesome idea and I think every single publishing house should do it – but they should do it correctly.  You see, Simon & Schuster simply had the teens vote on their favorite covers by putting marbles in a jar, which provided them with absolutely no actual feedback that they could use for future cover design.  But I am a curious one, so I stood there and asked the various teens that voted if they would mind telling me why they were voting the way they were voting.  And to be honest, some of their choices were surprising to me.

For example, for the book Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano.  One cover had the girl on it and the other one was the same but had the girl removed.  I liked the cover with the girl because I felt your eye was drawn to the negative, empty space without her.  But the teens preferred the cover without the girl because they said it gave you too many preconceived ideas about who she was, what she looked like, etc.

There were also two covers presented for The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler.  The cover you see above is the cover that won, much to my surprise.  It seemed very adult to me.  The cover that did not win had an open road and two teens kissing in a motorcycle rearview mirror.  I thought it had more movement and that the teens would be drawn to it because it looked both contemporary and featured others teens on the cover.  The teens I spoke to said they liked the deep, rich purple and that they liked that it had a book and the heart on the cover.

In the event one thing was obvious: Covers Matter.  This is not, of course, surprising to us, but when the teens had tables full of books to browse it was the cover that determined whether or not they would pick it up and read the back cover.

Like I said, this was a fun, fascinating event.  Genius really.  And we can do the same type of event at our libraries.  Take your ARCs and lay them out on a table and ask teens to give you feedback, vote on your next book club book, or just tell you whether you should buy it for your collection or not.

Have books with two different covers, like Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley, and ask teens which cover they prefer and why.  Or just put out two books and ask teens which one they are more interested in exploring based on the cover. I am a firm believer in asking the why, that is where you get the real insight.

You could set up a book speed dating event here as well, that would be fun.

Then, of course, you could also have a computer set up showing booktrailers.  Give out freebies.  And yes, there was awesome food.  They served deep fried Macaroni and Cheese and it was the best thing ever.

How I Survived Conferencing with Teens and You Can Too

The other day I talked about how ALA 2013 was going to be a commuter conference for me, and mentioned that I would be bringing teens along for the first time.  All of this contributed to an e..x..h..a..u..s..t..i..n..g weekend, but honestly, I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity and would do it again in a heartbeat.  What’s the tradeoff that makes it so worth it?  Let this picture tell you the thousand words of why:

She met Ellen Hopkins!
Oh my gosh! The teens were so over the moon excited about it all, it was better than Christmas.  In the pic above, she had just met and spoken to an author (Ellen Hopkins) for the very first time.  If you could bottle that excitement and joy, you’d be a millionaire.  

Our trip wasn’t just about hobnobbing with authors and picking up galleys, though don’t get me wrong – that was crazy exciting for these teens.  The six teens I brought to Chicago were there to share their opinions and perspectives about the Best Fiction for Young Adults nomination list
The mic and crowd were intimidating, but the teens shone.
And share, they did. You can view the whole session on YALSA’s blog, or read the Storify of tweets of comments and impressions during the session.   
So how does all of this work exactly?
For the BFYA teen session, be on the lookout for the callout from YALSA this fall for teens in the Philadelphia area for the Midwinter Meeting, and next spring for teens in the Las Vegas area to come to the Annual Conference.  The application process involved describing my teen group and including some reviews and opinions on the nominees from my teens.  It’s helpful to plan ahead if you think you might want to do this so that you have some reviews at the ready when the time comes.  
If you’re not near one of the upcoming conference cities, that doesn’t mean your teens can’t participate in something similar.  You could host a teen book summit with libraries nearby, work to get your teens involved in any reader created selection lists in your state, or play off of the Teen Top Ten nominees during Teen Read Week.  
I was fortunate to have partnered with a school librarian on this endeavor, and she had access and practice in the nuts and bolts of moving teens around.  Permission forms and parent contact was her domain!  We were also lucky to be able to walk and take public transportation to get around, which eliminated a lot of my worry over driving teens around or ensuring that they arrive safely on their own.
Some tips: 
Remind them to bring water and wear comfortable shoes.  
Explain, in as much detail as possible, what you expect from them and what they can expect from the event
Communicate your time table clearly with parents.
Collect cell phone numbers from the teens and give them yours.  This is not a level of intimacy I’m typically comfortable with, but when one of our teens was separated from the group on the Exhibits floor, wow was I glad she had my number and quickly found us!
Plan timing carefully and build in some cushion so you are sure to arrive where you need to be when you need to be there.
Take a deep breath, and have some fun — that’s what your teens are doing!
What seemed most valuable to the teens was being taken seriously.  
Is it possible to convene a teen committee to review potential summer reading titles for the school?  Could you create a yearly Local Favorites list that is similarly teen informed?  If so, what about opening the deliberations on the titles up to the public so that the teens get a wider audience and a chance to demonstrate how informed and thoughtful they are?  Bring in technology too!  You could encourage Vine submissions for teen book votes for a barrage of six second platform videos that could loop on your website or in the teen lounge.
The author connection
Truth: meeting authors and getting galleys was a HUGE draw for our teens.  We were fortunate enough that Simon & Schuster and Penguin both hosted events that teens were invited to, which lead to  signings and conversations with Ellen Hopkins, D.J. MacHale, Julie Berry, and Holly Goldberg Sloan.  Visiting the Exhibit floor got the crew up close and personal with Frank Beddor too.  This was big (see photo above if you’ve forgotten already how amazing it was for teens to meet an author).  But Annual is not the only place to meet an author.  For many of us, hosting an author event at our own library is simply cost prohibitive.  But partnering with other local public and school libraries might make it possible.  
Frank Beddor, author of Looking Glass Wars
Don’t limit yourself to the library world either.  Check out your local book stores for author signings and coordinate a trip for a handful of teens.  Be on the lookout for smaller regional conferences and events.  Here’s the deal: one thing librarians can offer even the most jaded teens is access.  We offer them access to information and resources, books and their authors.  Staying connected to the book world around you and enables you to extend that information to your teens.  You become the conduit through which they can delve even deeper into their favorite books, and forge connections to other teens who share their interests.  
Teens from several library groups connected and immediately bonded over books.

How do you work to connect teens with authors and the larger book world?  Have you hosted authors that work easily with libraries?  Taken teens to author signings?  Escorted them to conferences and events?


The Cassandra Project, or youth involvement from the ground floor (a guest post by Patrick Jones)

Today, I am very honored to present a guest post by YA Librarian GURU Patrick Jones, the author of many teen books and what has long been the ya librarian bible, Connecting Young Adults and Libraries.  As a librarian in Ohio, I once attended library training presented by Patrick Jones as a result of an OLC Grant.  Drew Carey had won money and donated it to Ohio Library Foundation, he was a huge supporter. Cleveland rocks and all that.
It started back in 1986, in my first young adult librarian job at the Springfield (MA) City Library.   We’d decided to expand the magazine offerings beyond Boys Life. Since I was new to the YA field and could find  no professional articles about YA magazines I put together a survey asking teens which magazines they wanted in the library.  While this was passive youth involvement, the seed was born.   From that time up through my last YA job in 2001 – where as a consultant I helped Hennepin County Library put together Teens Online, the YA advisory group for the redesigned webpage – this idea of youth involvement was a core philosophy I advocated and practiced.   

When I started writing for teens, it seemed like a good model to use.  While my first novel Things Change didn’t use any teen input, my following five novels all involved teens – mostly those I’d met during school visits – reading the manuscript before it was sent to my editor at Walker Bloomsbury.  In 2006, I began a semi-formal relationship with two teachers at a nearby high school where they would organize a group of teens to read, comment, and eat pizza.  

For The Tear Collector in 2009, I took youth involvement to the next level by featuring a poem “I Hurt ”written by a teen (for which she was credited and paid) in the book itself.  

And then came the Grumpy Dragon.

SpringLea Ellorien Henry – editor / publisher – of Grumpy Dragon Books approached me about working together on a project (aka the porn book).  While that title didn’t seem right for the Grumpy Dragon brand, we discussed doing another Tear Collector title, more in line with Grumpy Dragon’s paranormal focus.  We hadn’t decided to work together until one cold January day when SpringLea called with an idea, a youth involvement idea.

The previous summer SpringLea had taught creative writing to a group of teens and many of them expressed interest in learning more about the editing process.  If only they had a practical way to do that…..
So, we created the Cassandra Project (Cassandra is the narrator and protagonist in the Tear Collector world) where I would work with a group of teens to create a book.  As they commented on my first draft, I made huge changes and saw great opportunities based on their raw yet reasoned reader reaction. At first, the relationship was through technology – a Skype visit and Facebook interaction – but a face to face was needed. 

One August day in 2011 I flew to Colorado and spent the day working through the book in a way I’d never done with any editor, from my library professional books to my young adult fiction.  Their involvement demanded more credit than a few words in the acknowledgements so they dubbed themselves the Elsinore Quills (the book – Cassandra’s Turn – weighs heavy with Hamlet references and themes) and earned co-authorship credit.

I had deliberately NOT written the ending so we could brainstorm it together in person.  We discussed each plotline, talked about static versus changing characters, examined motives and opportunities, and decided which ends to leave loose and which to wrap up.   By the flight home the next day, I’d taken their notes and outlined the three final chapters.   Within a few weeks, I completed the final chapters and incorporated (almost) all of their.  The Quills had another chance to review the manuscript while the Grumpy Dragon editorial team worked on it as well.

We together decided the book needed a prologue so one of the Quills did a first draft.  Another teen from Michigan also wrote part of the book (It was a strange conversation – What are you doing today Cyndey?  Nothing, why?  You want to make $50?  How?  Write me a suicide note. Okay). One member of the Quills wrote about her experience for VOYA’s Notes from the Teenage Underground.  Together we presented at the Teen Literature Conference in Denver, and I will use interviews for a presentation at the Children’s & Young Adult Literature Conference at The Loft in Minneapolis in May 2013.

When I was moving out of teen librarianship I began to think more about the idea of the outcomes of our work:  not about increasing circulation, but about building assets, in part through youth involvement. This project yielded the outcomes we want in youth involvement work. Because these teens were brutal and bold and beautiful in their approach I got a much different book than had I written it without their input.  They got be part of the publishing process: not just writing a review, not just speaking at BBYA, and not just examining ARCs but on the ground floor of a published book.

It is win win when youth are involved.

More about Youth Involvement at TLT:
Draw It: Teen Summer Reading Club art contest
Putting the “Teen” in your Teen Space
Teens Got Talent: Empowering teens and creating buy in
Teen volunteers
Youth Empowerment: social campaigns aimed towards getting teens involved

Where Everybody Knows Your Name…. Thinking about Want Teens Need

I’ve been a fan of Connected Learning for a while- I really like their streaming learning environment, and their topics.  The one for March 21 was on HOMAGO spaces (Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out) which is an awesome concept (read our previous post called Don’t Underestimate the Value of Hanging Out), and takes what I do at my teen after hours and teen nights one step further by adding in a learning aspect, one that I’m going to try out this fall. I’m already doing the HO and MA parts, it’s the GO part that might take a little time (although to hear my Yu-Gi-Oh teens or one of my readers talk about their favorite book, we geek like crazy). If you haven’t seen it, here it is:

connectedlearningtv on livestream.com. Broadcast Live Free

What got me thinking, however,  was when they said “youth spaces should be like “Cheers” where everybody knows their name.” Now, I grew up on Cheers, and remember watching it with my dad and Shelly Long was the girl that Ted Danson wanted and Woody Harrelson was not Haymitch but the weird dorky assistant.  Teens may not know Cheers, but they want to be known, even if they don’t say it out loud.
We hear in the news about what so many teens are going through: drugs, suicide attempts, depression, bullying (really, it’s abuse), and you never know when saying Hi and asking about their day might at least make a spark in their lives. Going the little bit to put faces with names and know little aspects of their lives aside from what they’re reading doesn’t take that much effort, but it can make a world of difference for a teen.
It goes back to customer service, plain and simple. I avoid places where I’m not treated properly: nasty tables or bad table service at a restaurant or fast food place, I’m not going back. Sticky floors, shelves stocked willy-nilly, horrible cashier- not going back. Treated like an outcast, not even looked at- not going back. It’s the same with libraries. We need to remember that even though we are teen specialists, we need to be aware of *how* we are treating them, and that they need that extra attention just as much as the sobbing 5 year old who tripped and got a boo-boo. They just may not be saying it.

Human Trafficking: YOU can get involved and help! (guest post by Kim Purcell)

Kim Purcell is the author of Trafficked, a novel about human trafficking.  She also wrote THE MOST VIEWED post on this blog: Fear in Writing, Fear in Life. She is joining us again today to talk more about trafficking and how YOU can get involved and help put an end to this horrible act, which is often called modern day slavery.

It seems no matter where people are trafficked, they have one thing in common: the traffickers are feeding on their vulnerabilities. Maybe you have family issues or boyfriend issues. Maybe your confidence isn’t great. The traffickers spot this. They compliment you, take you out for dinner, buy you things, coerce you to do things you wouldn’t otherwise do, make you feel wonderful and then make you feel horrible. They feed on your needs, they make you dependent on them, and then, once they’ve worn down your confidence, they exploit you.

In America, 100 000 American kids and teens are trafficked every year. That’s a pretty huge number. This means they’re being exploited, used for their labor and their bodies, and they aren’t getting paid.

Most people agree that human trafficking is a terrible problem and an issue we need to solve in our society today. But how? For a lot of these big issues, it’s normal to wonder what kind of an impact one person can have, especially if you’re a young person with fewer resources.

But I think kids, teens and college students can make a bigger impact today than they ever could in the past. Any student who wants to activate change can do so now through social media and blogging. Nobody knows how old you are, just that you have something interesting to say. I think all young people should have blogs and twitter accounts to share the things they are passionate about. As a side benefit, this can lead to a career.

Here are some small things any person can do to make a difference. Choose one and do it today and then tweet, Facebook or email me to let me know how it went.

1. Volunteer

Almost all big cities have anti-trafficking organizations, so you can look online to see who is in your city. Some of the ones I recommend are … Love 146, Gem Girls, Stop Child Trafficking Now, ECPAT, Restore NYC, Not For Sale, Free the Slaves, Cast LA, La Strada International, Somaly Mam. Safe Horizon, Polaris Project, Stella’s Voice. The Salvation Army.

This is a screenshot of Love 146’s webpage. Visit for more info.
2. Write your senator or representative in Congress.

Tell him or her that you want strict laws to punish traffickers and funds to support victims of trafficking. Go here: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

3. Spread the word.

Maybe you don’t want to start a Twitter account or blog dedicated to the subject, but you can let your friends know about the issue on Facebook. You can pass along my novel to your friends. The organization Love 146 has used Trafficked as a tool of awareness and I think it’s a way people can connect on an emotional level with how trafficking happens. 

There are a lot of videos on YouTube that address this issue that you can share, just search the term Human Trafficking.  Please note, many of them are NSFW (or school). 

Love 146: An Overview

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDrCMWT4Khc]

4. Avoid buying slave labor goods.

This includes everything from electronics to clothing to coffee to chocolate. How can you avoid these goods? Shop for fair trade items. Also, shop for things made in the US, or another developed country. It might cost a bit more, but the quality is usually better too. Better to buy fewer things than to know you might be wearing something made by slave labor. 

5. Donate or start a fund-raiser at your school.

Even if you donate five dollars, it can help. I visited a school in Washington, DC, where students are doing regular bake sales. I went to another school in Park City, UT, where students printed up anti-slavery t-shirts and sold those. Every little bit helps. This is why I’m donating 20 percent of everything I make from Trafficked to anti-trafficking organizations. 

Everyday kids and teens are taking a stand about issues they care about and deciding to Do Something.  Visit Do Something.org to learn how you can be a force for good in the world.

We need to help the victims of trafficking and we need to stop this crime from happening in the first place. There are so many innovative things you can do to help end human trafficking. If you decide to turn your compassion into action, let me know what you end up doing. I love hearing these stories. And it doesn’t have to be big…Even a five-minute tweet can change the world, if it’s retweeted enough times.   

GIVEAWAY: Author Kim Purcell is giving away a signed copy of Trafficked. Please leave a comment between now and March 23rd to be entered to win.  We’ll need either an e-mail or a Twitter follow back to get in touch with the winner. Open to residents of the United States.

Put a Teen on It! The library board that is (Teen involvement)

When we talk about teen involvement in libraries, we are often thinking of ways that we – the teen librarians – can involve teens in our planning activities and give them a voice in our services.  But there are countless ways to involve teens in the life of the library.  Today I’ll discuss a big one – creating a position on the Library Board of Directors for a teen.

This is not a Teen Advisory Board – what I’m talking about here is creating a spot at that big table in the Board room for a teen to fill each time the Library Board or Library Trustees meets.  Does it sound crazy to you?  While the practice is not yet widespread, it’s not unprecedented, and now is a good time to start moving on the idea if you want to implement it in your library starting in the fall.  Your best avenue for reaching the kind of civically engaged, focused, dedicated, high achieving [read: busy] student that will best suit such a position could very well be someone you don’t know yet because he or she is likely too busy to come to library programs.  Reaching out to the schools will yield a better field of candidates, so start thinking and planning now before exams, the Spring show, and prom take center stage for your high school community.

Why Teens on the Board?

While it may seem obvious to those of us that work with teenagers that they have something meaningful to offer the Board, when presenting this idea you may need to convince some folks who aren’t so keen on the idea.  Teens on your Board can provide:

  • Information on technology trends that are important to teens during discussions of the Technology committee.
  • Perspective on how and when teens use library space when the Board is entertaining proposals from architects or signage companies or considering a reallocation of hours.
  • Insight on how new policies will be received by the teen community.
  • A direct “insider” connection to local schools.
Meanwhile, your Board can provide the following to the teen or teens they invite in:
  • A firsthand experience in local government
  • An opportunity to be heard by and have opinions valued by adults (Hello 40 Developmental Assets!)
  • An excellent college prep experience
  • A connection to the library that will last a lifetime
  • A deeper understanding of how the library works
  • Will the teen be an elected position or appointed?
  • What kind of requirements and application process will you implements?
  • Will there be an interview for the position, and if so, with whom?
  • Will the teen have voting rights?
  • Must the teen also be involved in the Teen Advisory Board?  If not, how will you stay connected with the teen liaison?
  • How would you deal with removing or replacing a teen Board member who was unable to fulfill the duties?
  • How long will the term be?
  • How many positions will you open?
Once a teen has been added to the Board, check in with him or her periodically.  Make sure everything is going well and that you’re available to answer any questions.  Try to stay in the loop, and offer assistance if schedule or personal issues come up.

If you still find the Board resistant, propose a trial year, or try appointing a teen liaison to be on specific Board task forces or committees that have a direct impact over teen services.  Prepare yourself, collect documentation, and be ready to champion the teen voice in your community.  And if they still don’t budge, try again when the Board has turned over and some fresh faces may be more receptive to your suggestions.

So You Wanna Be a Superstar? The Book, The Event, The Giveaway

Kids who love the arts often hang out in our libraries.  Chances are when you attend the school musical, you know half the kids on stage and wonder why you have never met the other half.

How can you serve the superstar aspirations of those kids?  Could the library be more than a repository of the scripts and monologue books come audition time? 


There is a new Event Kit connected with the YA book So You Wanna Be a Superstar? The Ultimate Audition Guide (Running Press Kids) that could help you do so. Read more to learn how you can enter to WIN SIGNED COPIES OF SO YOU WANNA BE A SUPERSTAR!

Author Ted Michael is a bit of a superstar himself.  A NYC literary agent, teen author, and performer in off-Broadway productions, he used his long friendships with Broadway stars and instructors like Lea Salonga,  Nic Cory, Mara Jill Herman, and others to build his advice book for young performers.

2013 YALSA Popular Paperback nominee

2013 YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers nominee

“….is no amateurishly written instructional manual … Michael outlines a proactive approach to success, acknowledging that disappointment may be part of the process, but gives readers insight on every available tool they may equip themselves with to increase their chances of breaking into the biz”—Booklist


Whether your talented patrons are planning to try out  for the musical, glee club, chorus, or the local teen idol they need audition skills.  The Event Kit walks you through how to use local theater and music luminaries to hold a panel discussion about auditions and how those luminaries can improve your patrons’ audition songs or monologues by giving advice to each. 

This event can be held prior to a specific casting call and be focused on that particular show or can be held anytime throughout the year to improve superstar skills.

The Event Kit includes:

– Poster

– Marketing copy to announce the event

– Suggestions on how to invite local theater/music luminaries

– Panel questions

– Audition sign-up form

– Permission letter copy

– Audition schedule/rating sheet for the panelists

– Activity sheet for matching composer and lyricist to musical

– Superstar advice cards from Broadway stars to hand out to attendees

– Opportunity to get free signed book for the “most promising audition”



Author Ted Michael is giving away 15 signed copies of So You Wanna Be a Superstar? The Ultimate Audition Guide by 1/11/13.  Enter to win HERE


Kirsten Cappy is the owner of Curious City, a children’s book marketing firm that builds reader engagement projects for authors, illustrators, and publishers believing that supporting educators, librarians, and other heroes of literacy with free tools and connections is just, simply best practice.  Curious City hosts free reader engagement projects at www.CuriousCityDPW.com.
Karen’s Note: I used one of Kristen Cappy’s Curious City events (a tie-in with the book Reunion) this year as part of my Teen Summer Reading Club.  It was nice having all the work done for me and they were very easy to work with.  This is the ultimate Teen Program in a Box, highly recommended.

We #Mustacheyoutoread At The Library… A Pictorial

In case you missed how this all started, take a look at Karen’s post.  I happen to work in a library where we have a ton of kids, and the day I started playing around with it was the middle of our week of Thanksgiving break.  I knew that mustaches were popular and am very familiar with Movember, which uses sponsorships to raise funds for prostate and testicular cancer research. Little did I know that my kids would get such a kick out of it.  

Knowing that I had a ton of kids, I printed off a set of free mustaches off of the internet (google is your friend) and ran them off on card stock.  Since my kids run all ages, I didn’t want to have them on sticks like Karen did (Miss, he poked me with his stach!) so I’ve just been using clear tape.  The kids have to pick a book they would give to someone else to read, I take their picture, and they keep the ‘stach.  And they KEEP them on all day, including the teens.

So what are my teens recommending to others?

Armorica by John Hughes.  Miss, when is he writing another book?

The Beatles.  Love their music, Miss.
HALO:  The Cole Protocol.  HALO books rock, Miss.
Darth Paper Strikes Back.  When is my copy of Fortune Wookie coming?
My current favorite, Days of Blood & Starlight, which time has yet to let me finish.  Boo.
Larklight by Philip Reeve.  No, it’s mine, all mine!!!  Bwah ha ha ha haha.
Even That Guy got into the act, with Makers by Cory Doctorow.
Naruto series.  It’s way cool, Miss.
Neon Genesis Evangelion.  Even though the anime is way better, the books are still good.
Sports books.  I like reading about real people.
The Stand.  I like things that creep you out.
Twilight.  Best book ev-ah.

The Walking Dead.  Because the books are WAY better than the TV series, Miss.

The Outsiders.  Because it tells how things really work, Miss.