The Hub Challenge Goes to School

read like a librarian scoreboard

Are you aware of the Hub Reading Challenge? Are you participating this year?
It’s quite the undertaking. Read as many of YALSA’s award-winning, honored, or selected titles from the past year as possible (or at least 25). You know, while reading everything else you want to read and doing your job and living your life outside of work. It’s both exciting and daunting. I signed up for it this year, though with other reading to do for booktalks, articles, and fun, I wasn’t sure if I could complete it (though I had already read many of the books on the list, you can only count the books if you read them during the challenge period). However, I was excited enough to think about inviting my library patrons to participate.

I’m lucky enough to work at a school where encouraging students to read for pleasure isn’t all that difficult. Castilleja is a school for girls in grades 6-12 in Palo Alto, California, and even with their incredibly demanding academic and extracurricular schedules, most of the girls find the time to read for fun, though this is more common with middle schoolers than upper schoolers. We also provide many of the adults on campus, both faculty and staff, with reading material for work and for fun. So when I set out to develop a reading challenge based on the Hub Reading Challenge, I wasn’t sure if it would be overkill or icing on the cake. Continue reading

Self-Directed Programs: Scavenger Hunts

An amazing way to get your tweens and teens to know the “unfamiliar” bits of your library is to do self-directed scavenger hunts. You know that your “kids” tend to congregate to one particular area- whether it’s your teen space, a place with the most comfortable chairs or a low table for card gaming, or the place furthest away from the supervising eyes of the non-teen people at the desk. And while they’ll know where to find the YA books, MAD Magazine and Alternative Press, and manga, do they know where to find non-fiction books for reports? Or how to operate one of the databases? If you become devious and take a little time out of your day, you can take a theme and turn a lesson in the library world into a creative self-directed program that will make them want to participate.

Scavenger hunts can be as intricate or as simple as you want them to be. Think about your current teens and the browsers that you have. What do they like, what things grab them? Do you have a program coming up that you could use this program as a gateway, like a Lego or Rainbow Loom makerspace? Are your teens gearing up for state tests or are you starting to build up for summer? Are you celebrating Free Comic Book Day or Star Wars Day or any of the newer movie releases? Take any of those and create silhouettes or in-house graphics to place around the library- depending on the length you decide your program will be (a day, a week) they can be printed on normal printer paper or card-stock, but they don’t have to last long.

Or, like I did for Teen Tech Week this year, take a page from Gwyneth Jones (, The Daring Librarian, and go with a QR scavenger hunt! Instead of characters and pictures, make your hunt virtual and hide QR codes around the library for teens to scan and learn. I used ours to introduce our new Ipad and tablets to our tweens and teens.QR Code hunt

Once you have your theme, decide on the length of the hunt. I typically have used 8-10, depending on the size of the library, but you may want to go larger or smaller. Remember your audience- you don’t want them to completely zone out, but you don’t want them to think it’s a “baby” thing, either. Questions I’ve used before have been:

  • Nicely, introduce yourself to a staff member you’ve never met before, and get their initials. (with a picture of the Mad Hatter Tea Party on the reference desk)
  • Horror is a sub-genre of our fiction section, and Carrie is based on a book by this author. Find the author and the book and find your next clue.

So get creative and then sit back and watch the fun!

Submitted by Christie Gibrich

Teen Tech Week: Self-Directed Contests

I am completely in love with self-directed contests. Also known as passive programming (which always leads my superiors to think that there is NO thought or work involved at all, which is not true), these self-directed contests get teens involved because they are:

  • drawn into the library by the contest itself
  • ask the staff questions about the contest and about the items in the contest
  • use math and logic skills to figure out the answer
  • promote the contest to their friends

Even better, while they do take imagination and ground work, like all self-directed programming once they’re put together and set-up they take little or no staff watching, aside from the interaction with teens! My contests run on average for 2 weeks (some less) and generate on average between 25 and 40 entries. Continue reading

Maker March: I Craft, Therefore I Make

If a self-proclaimed Crafter (no I am not talking about Minecraft here) and a self-proclaimed Maker were put opposite each other in a cage fight, who would win? Are they equals? The same thing? What makes them different? Either way, they would certainly have the coolest wrestling masks ever! But I digress. Crafting and making are the essentially the same thing. They share the same basic DIY tenet, as well as the sharing ideas and how to’s, reusing, “up-cycling” or repurposing anything and everything. And both are made all the better if you can create using low cost, free or scavenged materials. Continue reading

Virtual Road Trip: Pennsylvania

Last spring, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) sponsored a literacy program at the Community Library of Allegheny Valley (CLAV) in Natrona Heights, PA, called Teen Reading Lounge (TRL).  PHC developed TRL to be a resource for public libraries interested in engaging teens in the humanities through the reading and discussion of popular YA fiction and creative experiences. Like many of the libraries participating in the program, CLAV was hoping to kick-start something long-lasting with TRL.pennsylvania

To launch the program at CLAV, Young Adult Librarian, Susan Wilson connected with a local educator, Dr. Sandra Reidmiller. Sandy and Susan capitalized on their respective experiences and individual strengths to create a program that would resonate with teens.  Sandy said, “Teens were able to “unplug” and meet face-to-face to discuss contemporary young adult literature and the current issues.  We selected books like The Hunger Games that had wide appeal in order to launch the program.” Continue reading

Virtual Road Trip: Delaware

The Teen Loft @ the Dover Public Library

It has been an exciting year for the teens at the Dover Public Library in Dover, Delaware. The Dover Public Library recently moved into a larger, brand-new building. Included in the new library was a dedicated space for teens called the Teen Loft. The Teen Loft offers a variety of different seating choices for teens to work in groups or study on their own. The furniture can be moved around which encourages our teens to gather and create their own space. delawareThe Teen Loft also boasts eight computers and three televisions for different movie programs and video game nights. Since the Teen Loft encompasses the entire third floor, we have the advantage of not being the quiet traditional library space. This allows us a lot of freedom to constantly engage our teens and have drop-in crafts or games at the ready.

We are always looking for different ideas and approaches to teen programming. Our teens have become a great resource in helping us decide on new programming. Quite often, we revise our programming to stay current and to meet the changing needs of our community. Our teens are also invaluable in building our young adult collections and we have a great group of teen volunteers to help with shelving and programs.

We have many clubs at our library designed to reach a broad range of teens. Our most popular clubs include an Anime/Manga Club, Doctor Who Club, Film-Making Club, LGBT Club and Chess Club. Recently, some teens have come together and released the first issue of The Loft LitThe Loft Lit is a young adult literary magazine full of short stories, poetry, art and photography, all made and edited by our teens. It is available in a printed format and on WordPress. Next up for the Teen Loft is a small media lab where we hope to give teens access to new resources that will allow them to make short films, book trailers, original anime, manga and more.

teenloftSubmitted by Kerri Hollyday & Katy Goff


Teen Tech Week: Judge a Book by Its Cover

If you’re still looking for ways to celebrate Teen Tech Week, consider a “Judge a Book by its Cover” contest.  For the contest, teens redesign covers of their favorite books. At my library, we give winners a brand new copy of their book with their remixed cover.banner_1002x200

Libraries looking for ways to harness the DIY ethic for Teen Tech Week can run this contest by eschewing pencils and paper. Photography, digital cartooning, 3D modeling, desktop publishing— not only are a wide range of tools available, but often teens are itching for a chance to play with them. Contests like this always get more traction if you can work together with a teacher or school. If the teens can get extra credit by working in their school computer lab or design class, so much the better. However, if access to those expensive Creative Suite programs isn’t that easy, there are excellent alternatives that are open source and library-friendly. Continue reading

Virtual Road Trip: California

Lunch @ the Library Brings Unexpected Rewards for Teen Engagement

Last summer, the Sacramento Public Library, in California, offered free lunches to young people, up to 18 years old, at the Valley Hi-North Laguna Library. CaliforniaThe project was part of the California Library Association and California Summer Meal Coalition’s Summer Lunch at the Library program, developed to keep kids healthy and engaged while school is out. The program combined summer nutrition programs and summer reading programs to meet multiple community needs.  It was a runaway success, with 3,406 meals served, but the most inspiring result was also the least expected: the engagement of teen volunteers.

We did not anticipate the strength of commitment that this project would engender. Within the first week, teens who did not originally know each other were sitting at the tables sharing lunch and joking.Lunch They were from different backgrounds, and from at least four different high schools and the junior college, but they became a positive and supportive team. With the guidance of volunteer coordinator Susan Bloom, they took the lead in designing the work flow. Intern Kate Ramos served as a mentor for the teens, acting as a sounding board for questions — personal and/or educational. The program provided a safe place for young people to learn how to work together, hone communication skills and provide support to each other in accomplishing a goal.

Susan talked to the teens throughout the summer about the useful skills they were learning. At the end of the program, we had a celebration to thank them. Susan shared job-hunting techniques, including tips from HR personnel at the local Target store. She also invited the executive vice president of a local tech company to talk about his life/job journey, providing a real-world example of a successful outcome after a rough start. And she presented the teens with sample resumes and letters of recommendation, articulating the workforce skills they had developed over the summer. LunchvolunteersJamba Juice gift certificates were also distributed. The Library expected to feed children, and hoped to enroll summer readers. That Lunch @ the Library turned into a training ground for the teens was an unexpected bonus.

The Summer Meals program at Valley Hi-North Laguna was nothing short of transformational.  The library impacted lives and changed the behaviors of the meal recipients, the volunteer crew and library staff . It also changed everyone’s expectations of what a library is and can be.

Submitted by Christie Hamm, Manager of Youth and Community Services, Sacramento (CA) Public Library


Virtual Road Trip: Maine

A Project that Brings Teens Together

At the Ellsworth Public Library (in Ellsworth, Maine) we have a small, but dedicated Teen Advisory Board.  They are willing to help out with anything from craft prep to after school programs.  During the meetings we talk about upcoming volunteer opportunities (as well as brainstorming for future teen programs and watching the occasional YouTube video).  This is great because the TAB members can get their required volunteer hours and I have a wonderful, helpful group of teens to work with. maine

However, I have been looking for a project they could relate to.  This year, I think I found it–the CSLP Teen Video Challenge.  Inspired by the teen slogan for CSLP 2014 (“Spark a Reaction”) the teens have written, directed, and filmed a short video to promote summer reading.  We happen to have a couple of aspiring film makers in the group who are studying video at a local technical school, Hancock County Technical Center, so we partnered with them to produce the video. Continue reading

Virtual Road Trip: South Dakota

Little Libraries on the Big State’s Prairie

The South Dakota State Library has seen some wonderful advances in teen services across the state in the last year after our summer Library Institute (June 2014) focused on teen services and programming.  Our Library Training Institute is designed for directors and staff of our medium and small libraries.  Our definition of medium and small is very different than the standard definitions – we’re talking libraries that serve populations of 5,000 – 15,000 for a medium and under 5,000 people for small libraries. SD Our curriculum is on a four year rotation – one year is on children’s & early literacy, one year is on teens, and two years are spent on administration, reference, grants, and technical services.  For 5 days in June of 2013, 30 librarians from 26 libraries came together in Aberdeen, South Dakota and took part in intense learning about teens in their libraries.  Topics covered included teen advisory boards, social media, programming ideas, booktalks & displays, book discussion groups, and how the teen brain functions.

As a result, we have not only seen an increase in programming for teens (annual report numbers are still coming in), but three libraries that had never done much for teens than purchase YA books started teen advisory boards and teen programming!  For a state with only 111 public libraries, This. Is. Huge.  At the 2013 Institute we featured the books Cinder and Scarlet, and we were even fortunate enough to Skype with Marissa Meyer! SQUEEEEE!!!!!  Recently, one of the libraries that started a brand new teen advisory board also reported getting an 80 year old grandma hooked on Cinder!  How awesome is that?

Two other statewide teen library initiatives have also seen wonderful growth over the last several years.  The South Dakota State Library has focused more time and energy on promoting teen summer reading in our summer reading program workshops.  Thanks to the amazing teen summer reading manual from the Collaborative Summer Library Program, teen summer reading numbers climb every year, with over 3,000 teens participating in summer reading in 2013!  Also, in cooperation with the South Dakota Library Association, the South Dakota Teen Choice Book Award – YARP – has also seen increases in teen voting for the last 5 years.  Over 2,000 teens voted last year across the state!

We can’t wait to see what happens in 2014!

Submitted by Jasmine Rockwell
Youth Services Coordinator, South Dakota State Library