We have tons of wonderful resources at our fingertips to create an awesome environment for our teens. Maybe you’re chatting with others about what they’re doing for the Hunger Games release, or you’re scanning Pinterest for new craft ideas. You hear people talking about how such-and-such program was a huge hit, and you think, “I’ve got to try that. My teens will love it.” So you spend time and money planning this sure-fire program, or maybe you’re creating your own Teen Space so they have a place in the library that’s theirs, and the time has come for the big program, the big reveal … and no one comes. Read More →

To Err is Human. It is also human to look for a scape goat, make excuses and wrap denial around ourselves like a cloak of invisibility. Alina Tugend, author of Better by Mistake, summarizes the process in her book. However, I think we can all recognize the steps we take to distance ourselves from mistakes.’  For example…

In December, I had a holiday party for our library’s anime club. The teens had been asking me for an anime trivia game, and I kept putting it off because I thought it would suck.’  I figured that I would do trivia at the Holiday Party. It would be like a special treat. I was delusional.’  I spent days coming up with trivia questions. I sat in my living room watching anime taking notes. I consulted the listserves. I read and reread fan sites and Wikipedia. I took online anime trivia tests. I drove myself mad writing questions.’  I stood in front of them with my list of questions, and they answered me with blank stares. There were 14 kids. They got 1/10 questions I wrote down. My more outspoken teens gave it to me straight. “Those series are old, I don’t know what you are talking about.” I kept my head on right. I started making up new questions on the spot, but I also started making excuses. Internally I was passing blame to the teens. “They should have told me what series they wanted me to draw from” and “I’m not a thirteen year old girl, I’ve never read Chibi vampire.”
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YALSA’s website states that Teen Read Week 2011 will be celebrated at thousands of public and school libraries, classrooms, and bookstores across the country. ‘ As Kool and the Gang might sing…YAHOO! Let’s all celebrate and have a good time!

There's a party goin' on right here!Unfortunately, when adults think about teens and parties, it often involves a mental connection to negative teen behaviors. ‘ Providing a safe and positive event for teens to interact socially can be challenging, but extremely worthwhile for teens and also the community that surrounds them.

This week, the library system I work for hosted its second annual Teen Read Week Lock-in, and over 120 students joined us for a massive celebration with games, dancing, face painting, scavenger hunts, crafts, and prizes. Across my social networks, I’ve seen hundreds of posts from other libraries about their Teen Read Week celebrations. These included DJ’s, concerts, read-a-thons, carnivals, costume parties, anime & movie showings, and so much more. ‘ Many of these events have been planned months and years ahead of time, and I am consistently amazed at the level of creativity & expertise of my colleagues.

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Over the past three years I’ve been in on the work of Hennepin County Library’s Media Mashup project (an IMLS funded project) which focused on bringing technology to teens in public libraries around the United States. The project used the Scratch software program (Scratch project example below) as the entree point for librarians to integrate tech into their services. And, it looked at the ways in which Scratch was integrated in order to better understand challenges and successes when innovating in libraries.
Learn more about this Scratch project
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Last night, YALSA hosted a lively chat on teen programming, focusing on inexpensive ways to hold programming. The chat was hosted by Jenine Lillian, editor of YALSA’s new book, Cool Teen Programs for under $100. Thanks to Jenine and our participants!

You can read the chat transcript (PDF). Join us next month, on Dec. 2 when we talk about teens and technology (and stay tuned for an important announcement regarding our Wednesday chats. Don’t worry, they’ll continue, just better than before).