I just returned to work after spending three invigorating days participating in the New Jersey Library Association’s annual conference. I was able to catch up with some good friends and colleagues, meet some new people who traveled far and wide to present and attend the conference programs, and attended some fabulous presentations. And from all different corners throughout the conference, there seemed to be a resounding chorus of “Say YES!”

Last week, Courtney wrote about the importance of collaboration. Discussing ideas and perspectives with others – both inside and outside of librarianship – can allow for the creation of some unique and creative ways of doing programming, building collections, and interacting with teens in our libraries. Sometimes these unique and creative ways of doing things can be intimidating, whether because we ourselves are hesitant to try something new, or our administration is holding us back, or our building, staffing, or schedules are less-than accommodating. But at some point, we need to bust out our advocacy skills and stop taking “no” for an answer when we want to do something cool in our libraries for teens! And Teen Read Week is a great opportunity to create some fun within our libraries and our communities.

Take all of the creativity from your professional peers and your teens and start thinking outside the box. Host an after-hours or all-night event to kick-off (or wrap-up) Teen Read Week this October! Incorporate Banned Books Week and start discussions or demonstrations about censorship and the freedom to read what we want. Collaborate and host joint programs among schools, public libraries, and community groups outside the physical building. Expand to mobile spaces and incorporate technology in ways that will entice your teens to not just attend a program, but also actively participate in its development and execution. Big displays like library flashmobs, emptying shelves, zombie crawls, read outs, and library hugs all created buzz last year. What will your library do in October 2012?

Don’t JUST say “yes,” say “yes, and . . .” and keep thinking of bigger and better ways to create ways to promote reading and library usage to our teens. It is during this week that we take so much pride in encouraging teens to “Read for the Fun of It,” so let’s make sure to make it FUN! Interact with your teens, interact with your colleagues, interact with your administration, interact with your community and really DO something to create some fabulous opportunities to connect during Teen Read Week. Take a look at these slides from a presentation seen at the Connecticut and New Jersey Library Association Conferences; if you can incorporate these 50 Awesome Things into everything you do, be proud to share all of your ideas about programming, collection, displays, contests, services, and advocacy efforts . . . and loudly declare that “It Came from the Library!”

– Kate Vasilik, Librarian, Piscataway (NJ) Public Library, Teen Read Week Committee Member

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