Don’t Let Them Have All the Fun: Three Things for Desk-Bound Librarians to Do During Annual

Right now, thousands of our colleagues are skittering about Chicago, attending programs, meeting authors, diligently attending to board, committee, and interest group work, and enjoying every open bar event they can find.

But if you’re like me, one of the rising number of people who can’t attend conferences because your travel budget has disappeared or, more sadly, the coworkers who would normally cover your travel no longer have employment, you’re less likely to be pushing through lines for Catching Fire than you are to be breaking up a fight in your Teen Space.

So if you want to wait out the conference craze before sorting through the tweets, blog posts, meeting minutes, selected lists, and live coverage, try one of these things to take a load off and enjoy your time on the homefront.

  1. Re-read a teen book you love – When I was 12, I was bored to tears in my local library’s children’s section when I stumbled on this new, strange-looking book profiling a kid wearing sunglasses and a neon wind-breaker (it was the 90s, after all). Lightning strikes abounded, and I pulled it from the shelf and read it–a gripping story about a bullied child who finds a pair of sunglasses imbued with the magic to change reality. Then I returned it, not to think of it again.

    Fifteen years later, I’m helping my boss with a weeding project, when I come across this old, strange-looking book profiling… well, you can guess. That book was Neal Shusterman’s The Eyes of Kid Midas of course, and I ended up rereading and enjoying it, despite all those years behind me. It may not have been the latest ARC, but I still enjoyed reacquainting myself with the characters, suspenseful situations, and the subtle nods to the Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life.” And now I can recommend it to teens who the publishing cycle completely skipped!

  2. Have a “wouldn’t it be cool” brainstorming session – Remember all those times you said “wouldn’t it be cool if…” but never wrote it down? Well, your overactive imagination could kickstart your teen services into the next decade. Take some time to brainstorm, either yourself or with coworkers, your wildest dreams for teen services, programs, and collections at your library. What was once a passing fancy will now be recorded for posterity.

    Afterward, run your list by teens to see what grabs them and discuss with administration what aspects of your list you’d like to prioritize for the upcoming budget year. You might surprise yourself with what you come up with–as well as what you’re able to incorporate into your services.

  3. Have an in-depth conversation with a teen – While our colleagues are off setting the agenda for teen services, to come, remind yourself of why you do the work in the first place by carving out some time from what’s surely a very busy day and having a pretense-free conversation with a teen. Let the teen drive the conversation, if they’re willing, and be reminded of what an incredibly smart, creative, energetic, engaged, crafty, awkward, skilled, friendly, challenging, diverse, and ultimately rewarding population we serve.

~Joseph Wilk
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

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Joseph Wilk

I'm a teen library assistant with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Main location. Here, I'm the graphic novel and music librarian in addition to running anime, music, LGBTQ, incarcerated youth, and video programming. I'm happy to serve YALSA as a blogger, member of the Teen Tech Week committee, and as chair of the Music Interest Group. Otherwise, you can find me in da club.

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