Religion is commonly grouped with politics as a topic libraries avoid programming with, bypass in reference interviews, and circumlocute in collection development.’  Treating religion this way is a disservice to our teens as well as other library patrons. ‘ Religion is intrinsic to our patrons’ lives; every individual — even those who do not opt in to religious observance — has a religious life.’  Religion informs our news, culture, education, and community life.’  No library is exempt from this; every library has religious patrons.’  A Facebook graph search is a simple way to test this assertion. Read More →



Spoiler alert! Don’t spoil me! Spoiler-free zone. These phrases have been bandied about since the beginning of the Internet, but it seems lately, spoilers have really gotten a bad rap.

Don’t know what a spoiler is? Urban Dictionary defines spoiler as “when someone reveals a previously unknown aspect of something which you likely would have rather learned on your own.” Spoilers apply to everything: books, TV shows, movies, video games, even apps. It does not seem to matter what the medium is, there is always someone crying foul on spoilers. Read More →

1966 ... rec room party

Image Courtesy of James Vaughan

There is a famous line from the Lethal Weapon movies spoken by Roger Murtaugh: “I’m getting too old for this . . . .” It can be easy to feel this way when working with teens, who are constantly changing their minds. Something is hot one minute and cold the next, sometimes trends are equally hot and cold (ask a group of teens about Justin Bieber or One Direction and pay close attention to the split). It can be hard enough to keep up with what teens are into, but sometimes an age difference of a few years can seem like decades to a teen. Trust me, that divide seems just as vast to librarians. In music alone we have to keep up with J-Biebs and 1D, while deciding whether to give attention to flashes in the pan, such as Baauer. Will Taylor Swift continue to be relevant to teens, or as she matures as an artist will teens lose touch with her material? There are so many what-ifs in pop culture, and how teens relate to pop culture, that it would be so much easier to echo Murtaugh’s refrain and throw in the towel.

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As someone tuned into pop culture, I fully acknowledge that the popularity of’ Game of Thrones is not exactly groundbreaking news. However, I am so excited for HBO’s upcoming third season of Game of Thrones that I wanted to share a few fun links that have popped up recently with the new season imminent.

George R. R. Martin, the author of the Game of Thrones series, has recently released his own readalikes list. These are not necessarily all teen-appropriate, so be aware of that. However, if you have teens who love high fantasy, this may be a great piece to check out. Additionally, Kimberly of STACKED has written a great genre guide to high fantasy that is perfect for any Game of Thrones pop culture enthusiast, teen or adult.


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Original TV content is on the rise. ‘ When I say content, I mean video from YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. And when I say TV, it’s much more than what’s available via broadcast and cable channels. And, more often than not, we’re’ watching that content on computers, tablets, and other handheld devices.

So, as an industry, television is not quite as easy to define as it once was. The number of individuals and media outlets creating original content not targeted for the traditional TV screen has been increasing rapidly. Perhaps you have heard of the VERY popular Lizzie Bennet Diaries,’ a’ modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s’ Pride and Prejudice,’ developed by Hank Green and Bernie Su.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries has become an online phenomenon, with viewers of all ages, but it’ definitely has teen appeal. Two tween girls who visit my library every day after school, hop on the computers in the youth area and watch episode after episode of the show. I can’t imagine my library is alone in this trend. Read More →


Image courtesy of Flickr user drinksmachine

Let’s face it, teens today can’t see their futures as easy. On top of their everyday pressures — struggling with new feelings for some peers, maintaining grades, exploring their own interests and increasing individuality — they also have to worry about the economy in ways teens just ten years ago didn’t have to. Back then, summer jobs were available, parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles had more established jobs and secure futures. The economy changed all of that in a blink of an eye, and who can say if that level of prosperity will ever come back? Teens are growing up with more uncertainty than ever before.

That uncertainty is playing out through pop culture in many different ways. In the area of books, you might have heard the term “New Adult”. Liz Burns of A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy has a long list of definitions and links to other posts that can give you a rundown of this increasingly popular publishing trend. To quote Liz:

“So, it seems to me that “New Adult” has characters from 18 to 29. It’s people in a time period that is after the perceived safety and narrowness and’  intimacy of high school — and by intimacy I mean, having a physical place where everyone goes and shares lunch times and has common experiences of classrooms and lunch times. I say perceived, because that’s not always true.”

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It’s Valentine’s Day, and few things inspire a teen’s undying love like their favorite musicians, actors and other celebrities.

For some of us, keeping up with the ever-changing pop culture scene can be difficult. My very favorite session from the 2012 YALSA Lit Sympsoium in St. Louis was “Make it Pop: How to Use Pop Culture in Your Library,” presented by YALSA stalwarts Sarah Wethern and Scott Rader. I personally learned about many things that had missed my attention but which might give me a little more street cred with my young people.

So I’m terribly thrilled that Sarah and Scott will be highlighting pop culture here on the YALSA blog, a sort-of ongoing, serialized version of their awesome presentation called Trendspotting. Look for it on Thursdays. I expect it will become a go-to resource for those of us wanting to keep our fingers on the pulse of all that is new and cool to leverage it for our library programs.

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