With our youth patrons returning to school, now is the perfect time to re-evaluate your community’s demographics and set goals to “Get Away” and connect with those underserved populations. As you consider where to start, the first step may seem daunting, but tackle the unknown in a way that is most comfortable for you. We’ll be sharing our ideas about setting goals during our Teen Read Week Twitter chat Setting Goals to Reach Underserved Teens onFriday, September 11 at 2 pm EST. If numbers and statistics read like a first language, you’ll probably have your own plan of action in which to gather information and compile results into charts and graphs. However, many of us need a different approach in order to ease our way into such unfamiliar territory and we offer a few ideas here.

Demographics from an insider view

Consider your teen patrons’ habits as a diving board into better knowing your community. For instance, if your teens often ask library staff for change to spare for food, comment about not eating breakfast, or are eager to attend library programs especially for the free snacks, you may want to further explore this trend. Start by investigating the nearby school’s stats on free and reduced lunches, the city’s poverty percentages, or the state’s caseload counter for food stamp families. The location of these resources will also provide other relevant data that may offer a more detailed view into the issue. Once you have a baseline of data, connect with local food pantries and other social service providers and start a conversation. You may discover any number of ways to partner with these organizations from creating a bookmark for the public listing the location of these services to facilitating meal programs.

Demographics from a bird’s eye perspective

Map the government, parks, nonprofit, and other community agencies within your library’s service area. If a particular trend in services exists, investigate its related statistical topics and connect with those organizations. Also, the types of businesses in your service may offer a starting point into better understanding your community. If you notice an unusual number of liquor stores in your area, you may check the location of rehabilitation centers or AA groups and connect with them. Another way to address your map of agencies, is to first connect with the organizations located nearest to your library, as those service are directly targeting your immediate area.

Take action with us in better understanding your community by joining the Teen Read Week Twitter chat on Friday, September 11 at 2 pm EST. Come ready to share your goals and gain new ideas and resources from your peers. When joining the Twitter chat, be sure to use #TRW15. See you there!

Amanda Barnhart is the current chair for YALSA’s Teen Read Week committee, an MLIS student, and a Young Adult Associate for the Trails West branch of The Kansas City (Mo) Public Library.

 

Get Away @ Your Library can mean a lot of different things to different people. When I think of it I think about why I read. One of the best things about reading is how it takes you to new and exciting places. Whether it is books about other cultures, time travel or historical events, books take us beyond our everday lives.

I love to read historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction because I love being taken outside my normal day-to-day world. With historical fiction, I learn so much about other time periods and get some insight into what it must have been like to be in that period. Certain periods are so far removed from our current world that they may as well be classed as Fantasy or Science Fiction. Speaking of which, when it comes to Fantasy and Science Fiction I am amazed by the worlds created by the author.

My newest interests are reading about books that take place in other cultures or countries. Sometimes you don’t even have to go very far away from home. Reading books about people from rural areas when you yourself live in an urban area or vice versa can take us into a place we have never experienced. Other cultures also help us to be more empathetic and knowledgeable about what we do not understand.

Some of the books that have taken me to other places that I highly recommend include The Precious Stone trilogy be Kerstin Gier, The Colours of Madeleine by Jaclyn Moriarty, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, The Grisha Series by Leigh Bardugo and so much more. Please check out the TRW Pinterest page for more recommendations!

 

Kristyn Dorfman is a School Librarian at Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn, NY.

I’ll confess that there have been cycles in my ten years of teen services where my creativity to develop innovative library programs suddenly depletes itself. It takes time until I kick my own butt back into gear. I’m sure you’re familiar with this feeling that can result from the graduation of most of your teen advisory group, or your programming budget substantially shrinks, or your energy lags after delivering an outstanding summer reading program. If you are a newly minted teen librarian, you may not have experienced this sudden loss of drive to deliver 100% amazing library services. We all have our secrets for how we regain that equilibrium, especially when feeling depleted from intense summer programming.

Here are just a few tips to energize your programming creativity before, during, or after Teen Read Week:

Challenge yourself to explore their interests. Have those card playing teens who are always in your library after school teach you how to play Vanguard or Pokemon. It’s easier to understand and own the argument that these games make reading, math, and strategy fun when you are actually having to do it yourself. Once you comprehend the reasons for their enjoyment, it becomes easier to develop creative programming because you GET IT. For instance, our middle school anime and manga group will make Pokemon balls out of styrofoam and bring in a favorite stuffed animal. They’ll create a new Pokemon name and ability for their animal and have them spar against each other.

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I have two new favorite teen program ideas – Blind Date a Book and Food Truck Menu Challenge.

Ok, Blind Date a Book isn’t very new; more often than not, you’ll see this in February for Library Lovers’ Month. Librarians across the country have taken this idea out for a ride and given it their own personal spin. Some benevolent librarians will give potential readers clues, by listing the genre or even a few spoiler-free sentences describing the plot or main character. Some have even successfully applied the speed dating concept to book choice – setting up tables with books at each station, allowing teens to sit with each book for a few minutes, then allowing teens to choose the book date to which they’re most attracted.

For my Blind Date a Book programs, I opt for complete “blindness” – offering up no hints at the contents of the wrapped tome. The “dates” I select tend primarily to be best sellers or YA classics that appeal to a broad range of ages, but I do include the occasional “acquired taste” titles. I decorate my stable of dates with stickers, stick-figure & smiley face drawings, and even phrases like “Short but sweet” (for the thinnest books) or “Can I hang out at your house?” The official rule is that the book must remain wrapped until it is checked out. Once checked out, the reader is free to unwrap the book – even if they’re still in the library. There are no penalties for returning their selected date right away. Sometimes, you just know you won’t be compatible, and that’s ok. I’ve included “rate your date” review forms and bookmarks that double as contest entries; both with varying degrees of success. However, my greatest satisfaction occurs when the books STAY checked out. To me, that means that the teen is reading something he or she would not necessarily have chosen or is re-reading a favorite. Either way, a teen is reading for fun – objective achieved!

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Teen Read Week is coming up October 12-18, and libraries are encouraged to use the theme “Turn Dreams into Reality” to share our knowledge, resources, services, and collections with teens in an effort to promote reading for fun. As professionals working with teens in the library, each of us curates our own personal collection—in folders and binders, dog-eared books and browser bookmarks, or just in our haphazardly cataloged heads—of resources that guide us in promoting reading. Yet as we inform our patrons about the epic books in our collection, the multiple formats in which they can check out our materials, and the research on the college success of avid readers, let's not forget that some of our greatest resources are the very subjects of our resource-sharing: the teens themselves.

It's an easy thing to forget since, as library professionals, we like to think of ourselves as the experts. In many things, we are. And in some, we aren't. You know that book that won dozens of awards but you just can't get any teens to pick up? How about the poorly-written piece of fluff that they can't get enough of? In the end, we can only guess at what will go over well. Each person has his or her own individual taste, but more often than not, teens' tastes will be more similar to one another's than adults' tastes will be to teens'.

Our goal during Teen Read Week is to promote reading for pleasure, and the only way to do that is to help connect teens with books they like. There may be a time and place for encouraging teens to read “healthier” books than the ones they want—that's up for debate. But this week isn't that time. If we want teens to learn that reading is fun, we need to think like teens. And while we can't entirely re-wire our brains (and probably wouldn't want to, having been through that angsty stage of life once already), many of us are lucky enough to spend enough time around teens that we have easy access to two simple techniques: observe and ask. Read More →

Today we wrap up our Teen Read Week posts with our final Dollar General Literacy Foundation Grant Recipient, Patricia VanArsdale. Patricia is Teen Services Librarian at Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library in Zionsville, Indiana. Isn't it a beautiful library? Keep reading to see how Patricia involves the teens in her library and what she did for Teen Read Week.

Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library Zionsville, Indiana

1. Describe your TRW YALSA/Dollar General Literacy Foundation Grant.

Our library had one TRW program on the calendar, but the grant allowed us to offer three additional programs to our teens.'  The first is a Hunger Games meal based on passages in the books.'  Over the summer, teen volunteers poured through two cookbooks based on the book series.'  It was a challenge since our library does not have a stove or an oven, but we found some great recipes.'  The second program will bring in Barbara Shoup, a young adult novelist and Executive Director of the Indiana Writer's Center.'  Teens will learn what it takes to be a writer and how to navigate the realities of a writer's life.'  The third program is a reading marathon.'  This will take place over fall break and get teens out of the house and into the library.'  Each teen attending will get a free book and a free bookmark.'  While many teens think they cannot read for three hours, they will learn how easy it is to accomplish something like this when you have stretching breaks, snacks and activities to break up a large chunk of time.'  The fourth program gives us an opportunity to reach out to the schools by making “blinkybugs.”'  These spider-like creatures have LED lights, a battery body and guitar string antennae.'  Vibrations and movement cause the antennae to touch the LED lights, which light up the eyes of the bugs.'  It is a great opportunity to do outreach and collaborate with schools and help reinforce the STEM initiative.

2. Tell us a little about your teen patrons. Read More →

Karen Allen, Teen Services Librarian, and Molly Wetta, YA Library Assistant

Karen Allen, Teen Services Librarian, and Molly Wetta, YA Library Assistant

Molly Wetta and Karen Allen of Lawrence Public Library are the innovative minds behind one of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation grant winning projects. Their Choose-Your-Own-Apocalypse scavenger hunt styled program kick starts their Teen Read Week celebration with a real life version of an alternative reality game whereby participants must “Seek the Unknown” throughout the city in order to survive the terror that awaits them.

You have read the introduction of the Choose-Your-Own-Apocalypse program and wonder about the basic rules for participation, thinking it might interest your library's teen group.
In order to solve all of the clues for the hunt, participants must have transportation and some type of tech that will take digital photos. Teams cannot exceed the number of 6 teens but can be made up of the teen's parents and/or siblings. Teams must also choose one hunt from the list of apocalypse themes of zombies, aliens, super volcano, or civil war. Three hours is the total time allotted to obtain the necessary items and successfully survive the apocalypse. All clues lead participants to items that will help them survive the apocalypse such as food, water, and medical supplies. In some cases, clues are released through the participation of community partners. One clue is announced over the air by a local campus radio station, another is positioned on a local business sign, and yet one more can be found in the ad section of the local paper.

You understand the basic rules and desire to know how this program connects with the idea to “Read for the Fun of It”, so you continue reading. Read More →

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! Read More →

It feels like destiny when you or your teen group discover the perfect match for Teen Read Week, pairing your creative library-themed program with the teen community. If your plans are met with disapproval or financial obstacles from fellow staff and/or management, it's easy to get discouraged or it may become difficult to find the support to make their TRW plans come true. While our situations are unique and reflect different types of resistance, we are able to pull from each other's experiences and implement a pro-active approach towards removing those barriers. In this post, we offer a mix of traditional and modern practices to help you strengthen support for young adult services.

' Prepare your advocate toolbox by equipping it with stats.

As librarians, we come to know our teen patrons by name and can recall their reading interests. We've heard their stories and have seen some of them grow up. These relationships enrich our work. Likewise, it is as important to know your community by their faces and background as it is to understand the community you serve (and don't serve) through statistics. By having this additional knowledge, you will become a more experienced translator and better able to describe your community's needs to management. Having numbers at hand will offer those success stories a background in which others may understand their values. Read More →

We often hear about amazing library programming-enormous board games, scavenger hunts, and stellar teen turnouts. ' But what about the programs that didn't exactly work out as expected? ' Sometimes it happens! We can't have perfect programs every time, but we can certainly make sure others don't walk right into the same programming problems. Join us for the vent session, complete with goat poop, all-nighters, and a surprising amount of marshmallow-related problems. Please feel free to include your own Teen Programming Flop in the comments section-we'd love to hear. Let the commiseration begin!

By TTaylor (Own work) CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 via Wikimedia Commons

By TTaylor (Own work) CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Top Things We Learned

If you invite a goat to the library, make sure he's wearing a good diaper.

Marshmallows are probably better outside toys.

All-nighters are less fun than they sound.

When all else fails, Gangnam Style videos on YouTube are a proven win.

Our Horror Stories

Public Domain Movies and The Bothersome Buffering

“For Teen Read Week one year, we had to pick from a list of programs to have, but I found out days before the program date, which had by then been advertised for months (via annoyingly tiny posters), that we were on our own to put together the described-by-someone-else program. I picked a Halloween horror movie, but then I found out that it had to be a public domain movie only, which, it turns out, means Really Old and Lame. All of our public domain horror DVDs were checked out, so someone sent me a website streaming old horror movies that we could play from the laptop. By old, I mean like, from the 30s. All of the ones that looked remotely fun popped up with an error message that said the content had been taken down due to copyright infringement. So we ended up with some random, ancient, lame movie with a picture too dark and grainy to see, and to boot, since it was streaming, it kept stopping every couple seconds to buffer. Most of the teens looked in and smartly walked on by, but I had one trooper who was content to watch this movie anyway. Soon, though, the other teens realized (exactly what I thought they would realize) that laptop= internet, so they came in and bogarted it and instead put on Youtube videos of Gangnam Style. I didn't even protest!” Read More →