Tag Archives: teens

48 Hours of Awesome


It’s hard to believe that it’s Monday and I’m back at work. While on one side I’m inspired and anxious to read, read, read after attending the conference but on the flipside I’m back to catching up on everything that happened this week and the feeling of librarian togetherness just isn’t the same as being surrounded by 500+ librarians who are excited about a lot of the same things that you are.

I saw so many interesting panels, got to talk to several awesome librarians, meet and geek out at some of my favorite authors–this event is like a rock concert for librarians. I think I had only two complaints–and neither had to do with the quality of the symposium. Each panel was unique and different and at the end of the sessions on Saturday and Sunday I was beat because my mind was so excited from everything that was racing around in it.

I’m fairly certain I’ll add in another post about what I went to and links to what was talked about, but I wanted to write about the panel that impacted me the most. Surprisingly, it was the fanfiction/art one. Hearing the panelists speak brought back these memories of me when I was a teen. It was 1997 and the TV show Spy Game was on. No, not the movie but the TV show. I loved this show so much I wrote a letter (actual snail mail) to the network begging them not to cancel the show. Heartless people they were, they canceled in anyways. So I looked for people online who also loved the show and discovered people wrote stories where the two main characters got together. Yes, I was “shipping” even back then, even before I knew what it was.

The panelists talked about how teens seek how fanfiction, write it themselves, or create art because they are not ready for the world they have discovered to end. That was how I felt about Spy Game. And just like teens now, I thought I was the only person in the world who felt this way. I had completely forgotten about this time in my life until the panel brought it back to me and I’m grateful.

Before I leave this post for the day, I just want to mention the other moment that struck me from the symposium. It was in the Fickle Future panel, and two authors (Ellen Hopkins and Beth Fehlbaum) made me tear up as they described the teens who approach them after visits, when everyone else has left to tell them how their stories helped them. The authors mentioned how important it is to have stories like theirs in libraries, and to fight for them to stay, because there are so many teens like this, much more than we realize. That broke my heart a bit.

It was these moments of intense empathy and connections with my inner teen that helped remind me of why I love working with tweens and teens. The symposium reawakened my energy and enthusiasm. I’m excited to read more, create more, and engage the people who come to my library. The next symposium won’t be until 2014 in Austin, Texas. I’ll be there–will you?


Conference Bound!


I’ve been looking forward to this since I learned I would be going in July, but it’s hard to believe that it’s just a few days away. That’s right, I’m going to YALSA’s Young Adult Literature Symposium!

I’ve been to conferences before (Reaching Forward, ALA annual in Chicago) but this is the first time that I’ll be going to an event for my people. Teen librarian is my dream job and knowing that I’ll be in sessions with tons of dedicated librarians who are passionate about the same thing makes me so happy. [Disclaimer: Of course, being a children’s librarian is also my dream job. But I think teen librarian edges it out for the number one spot.] I’m going to be going with my coworker, our library’s fantastic Teen Librarian and my mentor. Road trip!

I’ve printed out the list of programs and trying to decide on my favorites. As of right now, these are the ones I’m most interested in seeing.

  • YA Literature and Fan-Created Work [It’s being presented by Robin Brenner, of No Flying, No Tights fame–it’s a no brainer, I have to go]
  • The Future of Review Guidance [It’s been presented by several people, one of which is Carla Riemer a classmate from my LEEP cohort 14.1!]
  • When a Book is More than Paper: Transmedia Trends in Young Adult Literature [I’m really interested in these kind of mashup style books that tell a story via multiple formats–apps, texts, videos, etc.–and I want to hear more about them.
  • Make it Pop: How to Use Pop Culture in Your Library [I’m torn between this one, because I love pop culture and this other program that’s going on at the same time: The Next Generation of Author Visits. I’d like our library to do more author visits so I think this would be beneficial. I’m hoping my coworker and I will split and each go to a different session.]
  • Get Real: Contemporary Young Adult Fiction as the Next Big Thing [I feel that title says it all.]
  • A Fickle Future: YA Authors Discuss Trend-spotting and Timeless Keys to Literary Success when Facing the Disconnect of the Digital Age [What is the future of YA lit? Are the big trends predicted or created?]

I’m anxious to hear what everyone has to say and come back with some great new ideas to improve our YA (for us, this is our middle school section) collection. I can’t wait to brainstorm with our Teen Librarian, to have tons of planning time on the drive so we can come up with some great new ideas. And I’m excited to meet a group of amazing librarians!

I plan on posting a recap post next week of what I’ve learned. If you’re interested you can follow everyone’s thoughts by checking out the hashtag #yalit12 on Twitter. I’ll also be posting on Twitter at @whirlysquirl. See you next week!

New Program Jitters


I love that my job gives me opportunities to create programs. But if I was truly honest, sometimes I would say that I hate that my job lets me create programs. Why? It’s sometimes so hard to tell what’s going to be a success or not. And when you invest yourself and put everything you have into a program, to see it fail can be hard.

Truly, creating programs is fun. The sky is the limit (but also in that limit is budget, time, availability of staff and space, and interest). You hope that turnout is going to be amazing but sometimes it just falls short. Teens (and in this I’m including the 6th through 8th graders that I mainly work with) don’t always show up. Connecting Young Adults and Libraries talks about whether or not you cancel a program just because one teen shows up. The answer? Of course you don’t because that teen made a choice to come to that program and this is your chance to start a relationship with this teen. But it’s hard in a numbers world to justify the cost and time when few teens show up.

This is why I get nervous about programs. I go to plan but I’m seized with questions: is this a good date? Will they like it? Will they come? Toddler and young grade school programs are easier–you know the parents are going to bring them. But that’s not likely to happen with teens. For teens either they’ll come on their own or their parents will force them and they’ll be unhappy while they’re there (for example, in my “Monsters, Wings, and Other Halloween Things” program where the young teen voiced his displeasure at the program, the movie we played–everything).

My new program jitters are happening again. Our new monthly program Book Blitz is going to be starting in two weeks. This book talk program will feature a different book genre each month (October’s is Scare Your Socks Off) and allow myself and our Teen Librarian to share awesome titles they might have missed. Teens will be able to share their favorites in that genre with us. Since we get asked about book discussion programs (but in my experience they never have time to all read the book) I’m hoping that this program will fill a need with teens who are looking for great books. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for teens to show up that day. And if it should fail after a couple months? I’ll dust myself off and try something new. It’s hard but you know what? It’s so absolutely worth it.

Teenage Brains….Delicious Brainsssss


So (sadly?) this post is not about teen zombies. It is however about teen brains. Weird topic right? But two weeks ago I talked about being amazed by learning about baby brains and you know what? Teenage brains and how they function are pretty interesting. It also explains a lot about when I was younger.

Let’s go to the book: Sex, Brains, and Video Games by Jennifer Burek Pierce. I loved learning about Deborah Yurgelun-Todd, Harvard researcher, who looked at “teen and adult abilities to interpret facial expressions” (35). What she learned is that teens frequently couldn’t interpret nonverbal cues between fear, anger, and other emotions. In fact, the younger the teen the more they got it wrong. In contrast, adults could correct read people’s faces. The conclusion was that adults use their prefrontal cortexes to figure out expressions but teens’ weren’t involved as much. Teens therefore were using another part of their brain to figure out what they were seeing.

The author suggests that since surveys keep bringing up that teens see librarians as being mean and we’re told to be friendlier, it’s possible that teens are misreading our faces and thinking that our “concentration” face is really our “I’m pissed” face. Isn’t that interesting?

I think back to an experience I had at the YS desk. We always get middle school boys on the computer that sometimes get too loud or use inappropriate language for the kids floor. One evening, after being told once or twice to keep it down, everyone was great for the rest of the evening. I thought since we were always “yelling” at them to keep it down that I should tell them that they were really great. When I walked over and told them it was wonderful how great they were this evening and we really appreciated it, a regular tween looked at me with suspicious and doubt in his eyes and said “Are you being sarcastic?”

I thought this was so funny. I was being sincere and heartfelt and he didn’t get it. And you know what? Now I have a better idea of how he might have been reading me.

Does knowing about teen brains help our interactions with teen patrons? I think it will a bit. Understanding how they develop can help us in understanding what they are going through. It gave me insight into the exchange I related about. It makes me pay attention to my facial cues. What else is going to help our interactions? Remembering what we were like as teens.