A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

In the past few days, not only have we had to flip our calendars, but the seasons have transitioned and spring has sprung! Are you in the process of switching over your book displays and bulletin boards? This week we're sharing some fun display ideas from libraries and librarians on Instagram. Focusing on "April showers" is popular as well as gardening, spring creatures, and spring cleaning. April displays also provide an opportunity to highlight monthly themes such as National Poetry Month, National Humor Month, and Autism Awareness Month.

In addition to providing inspiration for new displays, spring can be a great time to spice up social media accounts with a new series or game. As our teens are heading outside for spring sports and activities, social media can be a great way to keep them engaged with the library when they're on the go. To encourage patrons to interact with the library on Instagram, some libraries post fun trivia questions using emojis, pieces of text or illustrations, or clues that highlight a specific area or collection of the library. Creating a unique hashtag for the community to share images of their reading and showing a side of librarianship not usually witnessed at the service desk (such as mugs used by staff or their favorite snacks), will help patrons learn more about staff members without being present in the library. There are also a number of popular hashtags that are widely used by libraries and patrons alike that are specific to days of the week such as #bookfacefriday in which the face on a book cover is photographed over one's own or #tbt to share an image for Throwback Thursday. Hover over the images below to see the hashtags libraries have created for weekly series posts.

Have an awesome spring display idea? Created your own hashtags for your library? Developed social media games for your patrons? We want to hear about it! Share with us in the comments section below.

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"Mrs. Thompson, why we only got two Bluford High books?"  "We need more manga."  "I like that Sharon Draper lady.  We got anymore of her books?"  These were just a few of the questions and statements directed at me about our high school media center's collection when I became a media specialist.  Through day-to-day direct observation and through results of a student survey, I quickly realized areas of our collection that were being underserved - manga and urban fiction.  There were groups of students who were all clamoring for the same few titles that we had of a certain genre or series and our "hold lists" were growing longer by the day.

Several reasons may attribute to underserved groups in a library program.  Community dynamics change.  Our small suburban school system has seen tremendous growth in the 18 years that I have been here - 400% growth.  That translates into a graduating class of 78 in 1998 to a graduating class of 478 in 2015.  In the same time period, our minority population grew from 5% to 30%.  Our media center's collection does not reflect this growth.  Another reason for underserved groups is the rapid growth in new styles of writing, like manga.  It can be difficult to know whether new styles of writing are going to be accepted by your patrons, and we hate to waste money on books that are just going to sit on the shelves.  We started out with three different manga series to test the waters.  The popularity of these titles exploded!  They rarely made it back onto the shelves as students would grab them from the "re-shelf" cart as soon as they were checked in.  They also became our most stolen titles!  (We do not currently have a book security system.)  There were titles that our students desperately wanted to read, so why wouldn't I listen to them to continue to foster their love of reading.

As a reader, I cannot stand to read things in a series out of order.  Many of my students are the same way.  Why did we only have some of the Bluford High series?  Why were #1, 4, 6-8 of Full Metal Alchemist missing?  Our database showed that we had owned, at one point, #1-15 of the manga series BlackCat, but several of the titles were now marked "Lost".  I set filling in the gaps of the asked about series as my first goal in strengthening our collection for our underserved patrons.  In the urban fiction section, we went from two Sharon Draper titles to all 10 of her young adult titles.  We were also able to fill in the missing Bluford High titles, which serve our urban fiction fans as well as our Hi/Lo students.  For the manga patrons, we filled in all of the holes in the series we already had and aimed to include four new series a year.

Another strategy for building our collection for these underserved populations was to get input from the students.  In adding more manga, we allowed the students who were most interested in these series to help us with the selection of new titles.  They perused catalogs and looked online for reviews and suitable content (as some manga is aimed at a more adult audience). My African-American girls, who were devouring the urban fiction, asked about adding the Drama High series.  They loved looking for new authors to tell me about as well.  With the addition of the new titles, plus the marketing of the items through displays, our circulation increased 67% in one year!  Allowing students to assist in making our collection stronger for them gave them a sense of ownership and pride in our media program.

YALSA's Teen Programming Guidelines states that librarians should "create programming that reflects the needs and identities of all teens in the community."  Many media centers and libraries run into the problem of having an underserved population, and it is the duty of the librarian to recognize the needs of all patrons and work to strengthen the weak areas.  Investigate your collection for missing titles and allow your teens input.  These practices can go a long way in reflecting the needs of the communities we serve.

A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

It's that time of year when public, school, and academic libraries start to feel the madness -- the book madness, that is!  To coincide with the March Madness basketball tournament, many libraries are hosting their own tournament with brackets of books. Frequently called Literary March Madness or Book Madness, librarians pit books against one another and ask library users to vote for their favorite titles. The sky is the limit when it comes to organizing brackets as the examples below spotlight different genres or categories (teen books vs. banned books, humor vs. local writers), sports books in general, staff picks, or pit popular characters against each other. When it comes to the voting process, there is also a bit of variation with some libraries opting for traditional handwritten bracket sheets and others heading online via social media, Google forms, or Survey Monkey.

Is you library participating in the big book dance and hosting a literary tournament? We want to hear from you! How do you go about choosing which books to include? Do you set up the pairings yourself or are you a fan of an online bracket generator?  Which method of submitting votes have you found works best for your teens? Do you change your categories from year to year to keep it interesting?

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A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

Maybe it is the promise of spring, or perhaps it's the the recent book award announcements, but reading is definitely in the air in teen services. This week's teen-focused Instagram accounts featured a deluge of teen book club posts. Whether simple photos of all the books prior to pick-up by book club members, images of teen involvement, or (of course) photos of the food being offered at meetings, it is clear that teen book clubs did not get buried under a snowy winter.

The school library I work for offers a book club to 7th grade students, which is run by one of my co-workers The kids vote on three books from a pre-prepared list (but can make a case for a personal favorite) and read the books over the course of a few months. Then, the group swaps out for a new round of 7th graders. There are no assignments, and the kids make book trailers with Animoto at the end of their session. Fortunately, the session that ran through the winter saw no decrease in enthusiasm.

What format does your teen book club take? Are there assigned books, or are teens and middle grade kids asked to simply come prepared to talk about ANY book? Do the school vacations influence book club participation at your library (if you are public)? If there are specific books, how are they decided upon? How do you promote and draw kids into your book club? Do you have themed reads? Offer food? Please share in the comments below!

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Pizza Rolls not Gender Roles

Last week to celebrate Woman’s History Month several Youtube personalities created videos  highlighting some of the issues with America’s gender norms.

One of the vloggers, Kristina Horner, created a video about how YA literature has become gendered. From different covers to how we label genre’s there are many ways subtle clues are sent to potential readers about what books they are meant to read.

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A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

Happy New Year! For many, the changing year brings with it a list of resolutions. What can we do for those who have made it a goal to read more books? For starters, we can share reading challenges with our teen patrons or create our own for our communities. The 2015 Goodreads Reading Challenge has users set a goal of a specific number of titles to read, but other sources like Popsugar, Book Riot, and the TBR (To Be Read) Jar Challenge give category guidelines in which readers select a title of their choice.  Others, like Epic Reads' 365 Days of YA reading calendar and YALSA's 2015 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge (which counts toward the upcoming 2015 Hub Reading Challenge), ask participants to read a number of books from a provided list. Either way, these reading challenge avenues provide inspiration for creating your own reading challenge for your teens. Check out Random House of Canada's year-long Reading Bingo Challenge (one general card and one specific to YA) -- fun and motivating!

Another way to engage teens in a discussion of their reading is through book photo challenges. Offered monthly, these challenges ask users to take a book-related photo a day and post it on social media with the corresponding hashtags. The sky is the limit when it comes to daily photo tasks! Engaging library users in this type of discussion can provide clues to collection development and potential programming.

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A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform. A new month with a new season approaching can only mean one thing -- new book displays! From fireplaces Catching Fire to snowmen and book trees, these displays were snow cool that we just had to share. What types of displays are you putting together this month? Do your teens have a role is putting everything together?

It's also the time of year for "Best of" book lists. The 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards were recently announced as were Epic Reads' 2014 Shimmy Award Winners. YALSA announced the finalists of both the William C. Morris and Excellence in Nonfiction Awards and School Library Journal presented their list of the 70 best books of 2014. Are you using social media to promote these titles and educate teens about these awards? If so, tell us how in the comments section below.

To view this week's Instagram images, please follow this link: Instagram of the Week - December 8

Have you come across a Instagram post this week, or has your library posted something similar? Have a topic you'd like to see in the next installment of Instagram of the Week? Share it in the comments section of this post.

A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform. This week we're looking at how libraries can use Instagram as a platform for readers' advisory. An interesting example that popped up this week comes from the UK. In the United States National Bullying Prevention Month takes place during October, but the UK holds Anti-Bullying Month throughout November with National Anti-Bullying Week falling during the third week (November 17-21 this year). As a way to raise awareness and spark discussions about bullying, Sarah Churchill, a bibliophile with a book-focused YouTube channel, started the Anti Bullying Readathon for which participants would read books with bullying themes. A Goodreads group was created and more than 700 members have created a list of 150 books that touch on bullying for a variety of reading levels. Participants engaged in discussions and shared their reading on social media using #AntiBullyReads. Engaging readers in an active discussion, developing themed reading challenges, as well as posting images of recommended books and resources available in the library are excellent ways for libraries to reach patrons on Instagram for readers' advisory.

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A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform. From cupcakes to duct tape and candy sushi to spin art, this week we're looking at how libraries advertise for teen programs, show off what participants made, and recruit new members for TAB and TAG groups. Does your library have an Instagram account specifically your teen population or TAB group? Who decides what gets posted on there?

Secondly, we mustache you... are you doing anything special for MOvember? If yes, please don't shave it for later! We want to see your crafts, displays, and decorations in the comments section below.

Have you come across a related Instagram post this week, or has your library posted something similar? Have a topic you'd like to see in the next installment of Instagram of the Week? Share it in the comments section of this post.

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