TRW 2013: Dollar General Literacy Foundation Spotlight on Deena Viviani

Deena Viviani, TRW grant recipient

Deena Viviani, TRW grant recipient

Continuing with our Teen Read Week grant recipient interview series, I chatted with Deena Viviani. Deena is the Young Adult, Programming, and Circulation Services Manager at Brighton Memorial Library in Rochester, New York.

Deena’s winning proposal centers around the Fourth Annual Greater Rochester Teen Read (GRTR)being  held during Teen Read Week 2013. This year’s Greater Rochester Teen Read features three MCLS library visits and one MCCDC visit by Printz Honor winner A. S. King. Starting in June 2013, MCLS librarians encourage teens across the county to read and discuss EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS by A. S. King in preparation for her visits. There is also a bonus read: DEAR BULLY which includes Ms. King’s essay, “The Boy Who Won’t Leave Me Alone.”

What motivated you to become a librarian? My library career started when I was 15 at the Parma Public Library in Hilton, NY. Going back even before that, I attended the story times and kids’ summer reading programs at that same library where Sue the Librarian (as I knew her then) “hired” me and my sister as tween/teen volunteers to help with those same summer programs that we had attended for years. Then when I turned 15, I was hired as a Page, and I remained there through the rest of high school and undergrad, moving up to Page/Processor and helping at the Reference/Circulation Desk, finally leaving at the age of 21 when I graduated from college and got a full-time job at a legal publishing company. I swore I was sick of libraries and would move forward with my new career and degree, whatever that may be! Um, yeah, after about 3 months in my cubicle office job, I missed the library. I went back to grad school that summer and got my MLS in 2 years. I also realized after taking the YA Services class that I wanted to be a YA Librarian. It took me 3 YA Services job interviews in 3.5 years to get hired in my current library, but it was worth the wait to find the right fit for me.

How did you hear about the TRW grant? On the YALSA e-newsletter!

What inspired your idea? Four years ago, author Terry Trueman told one of our system’s YA librarians that if we wanted to have an author visit for Teen Read Week, he would be our guinea pig. And with that offer, our Monroe County Library System YA librarians created the Greater Rochester Teen Read during TRW, now in its fourth year. The idea came from other “One Community, One Book” programs we’ve all seen, and we thought it would be great to use the same premise with a teen novel since there is so much great YA lit out there now.

Info about Deena’s plans for Teen Read Week 2013. The Greater Rochester Teen Read encourages reading for fun because of the related social aspects for teens; they can informally meet and discuss the titles, participate in events at their local libraries with snacks and giveaways, and meet an award-winning author who respects and empathizes with teens as is evidenced through her work. To prepare for GRTR/TRW, MCLS libraries began a Read-It-Forward program with EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS and DEAR BULLY. From June 1 – August 31, teens check out copies of these books from their local libraries and then pass them onto their friends to read. There are no due dates, overdue fines, or lost fees associated with these items; the idea is for teens to read them and pass them on to maximize the number of teens who read these books by GRTR/TRW. Information on GRTR/TRW, A. S. King, and the featured books is also sent to the middle and high schools throughout Monroe County, and a number of these schools chose to require Ms. King’s books as part of their spring and summer reading. The purpose of Greater Rochester Teen Read during Teen Read Week is to connect the community with each other and then the author over a specific book.

Tell me about the biggest challenge you foresee in regard to your plan. The biggest challenge, as with so many teen programs, is getting the teens to the locations for the events. A. S. King is visiting three MCLS libraries in three different parts of the county, but if you are a teen without a car/license/ride, it can be hard to get there given Rochester’s limited public transportation system. Libraries are also competing with lots of other activities. We’ll hear, “I wanted to go but I had to do XXX instead.” So making the TRW activities seem like the best thing to do that week is a challenge as well.

Was anyone else involved in your grant-writing process? I wrote the grant with input from another YA Librarian and our MCLS Youth Services Consultant.

What were their reactions when they heard they had won the grant? I emailed the MCLS YA Librarians and the educators who would’ve had to kick in extra money to fly A. S. King to Rochester [if we hadn't gotten the grant] when I learned we received the grant, and everyone was so excited and supportive!

What was your initial reaction? I jumped up from my desk and yelled, “I got the YALSA grant! $1000! Woo hoo!” Then I ran to my director’s office and told her. I was SO EXCITED! It really felt like a validation for all the hard work we’ve been putting into our Greater Rochester Teen Read for the past three years.

What tips would you give to a new YA librarian who was charged with creating a teen space and programming plan from scratch? My library is undergoing some space planning so I’ve been thinking about the Teen Space thing recently:

  1. Allow teens to talk; have the space set off so it doesn’t disturb quiet/study areas.
  2. Have clear signage and furniture that denotes the area.

    As for programming:

    1. Don’t be afraid to try new things!

    2. Don’t be scared off if attendance is low for some programs.

    3. Don’t be afraid to Think Big.

    4. Do allow teens to suggest program ideas.

    5. Do borrow successful programs from other libraries.

Finally, if you could be any YA lit character, who would you pick and why? Wow, that is a super hard question! I read around 180 books per year, most of them YA, so there are so many great characters to choose from! I think right now I would pick Emaline from Sarah Dessen’s latest, THE MOON AND MORE. When I was a teen, I wanted to be everything Emaline is: smart, close with her mom, has a great job, has a boyfriend, is self-confident with friends/guys, lives near the beach. Overall, I connect with characters in realistic contemporary fiction, though I admire the kick-butt ones in scifi/fantasy/paranormal as well.

This interview was conducted by Celise Reech-Harper, Associate Director of the Beauregard Parish Library and member of the Teen Read Week Committee. Contact via email: celise@beau.org.

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