YA SMACKDOWN April 2017 Round-up

Welcome to our YA Smackdown Round-Up! For those of you who haven’t heard about it, YA Smackdown is an informal, guerrilla-style idea-sharing activity for teen library service professionals. It’s always fun and there’s something to learn for everyone.

You can join in on a Smackdown at various professional events, start your own with our handy downloadable kit, or join in on a TSU-hosted challenge on social media every Wednesday! (Find us on FacebookTwitter, and Tumblr.)

After each month, we’ll post a collection of some of the more noteworthy responses. We hope you’ll all join in every week!

What fandom do your teens talking about the most?

Hamilton – Magda C.

Supernatural and you tubers. One of the girls in my teen book club is trying to convert everyone else into Manga fangirls, but it hasn’t worked yet – Sas H.

My Anime and Manga club lives Yuri on Ice! – Heidi H.

Non-fiction that should be on our radar?

Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea by Sungju Lee – Emily Anne M.

Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age Story by Amani Al-Khatahtbeh – Bridget K.

Blood, Bullets, and Bones – Brandi B.

Favorite outreach event you’ve done?

#SenshiCon (anime convention) we set up a booth and had a ball. – Jon-Pierre E.

Weekly “library lunch” book talk visits to high schoolers  – Jennifer B.

Outreach Crafts: The Good, The Bad, & the Ugly

This is my second full school year of going to some of my local middle and high schools and doing crafts with the teens. My last visit of the school year is this Friday and I thought it’d be fun to reflect back and on the best and worst crafts of the year.

The Good

Hands down, the favorite craft of the year has been the sock snowmen. They were easy enough that none of the teens struggled & fast enough that they had plenty of time to personalize. I loved seeing how different they all ended up being! This is just a small sampling of the results.

The Bad:

Okay, these headphone wraps weren’t really that bad, but the teens didn’t seem super into them. The ones who did it enjoyed the craft, but a lot of teens decided not to do it. It was probably one of the lower attened crafts that I did. I still think they’re super cute though!

The Ugly

I saw these hot chocolate ornaments and thought they were super cute, even as non-ornaments. I knew it would be a bit of a challenge for the teens, but it ended up being much worse than expected. In fact, if we had more than a handful of projects get completed I’d be surprised.  Part of it was my fault for using construction paper tops instead of cardstock/cardboard–I didn’t take into account that the access cup paint would weigh it down/destroy it. The other part is that teens are not patient! The whole act of rolling the paint in the cup was way too much for them and instead ended up with gobs of paint at the bottom of the cup.  Lesson learned, simple is better. I still love my sample, but it’s the only picture I have of the project.


Tell me, what simple crafts have gone over really well with your teens?

Adventures of a Super(visor) Librarian: Delegating Isn’t Easy










A big part of managing staff is delegating work and it takes way more time and energy than I ever thought possible! Delegating has always been difficult for me for several reasons.

1) I feel guilty. It’s more  of a confidence issue, I think. This feeling of guilt has definitely subsided in the years since I became a manager, but that thought of “who am I to tell them what to do” still lingers. I’m working on getting over it!

2) Delegating requires planning and being organized. In my mind, I am super organized and all of programming is planned way in advance. In reality, I sometimes forget I’ve planned a program until an hour before (JK…sort of….) This is also something I have been working to improve.

3) I’m a perfectionist. I think this is both good and bad, depending on the situation.

Image result for delegating meme

So how does a disorganized, anal-retentive manager with a guilt-complex delegate work to her staff? Well, I’m definitely a work-in-progress, but here are a few things I have learned in the past 10 years of doing this job and some things I’m planning for the future:

  • Figure out what you are willing to let others do. There are so many little tasks that I was used to doing myself out of habit, but there just isn’t time to do everything. This is difficult for me, especially because I know that everything my staff does is ultimately a reflection on me. I definitely have some control issues. But here is where the next thing comes in….
  • Communication. Yup, there it is again. I have to remind myself that if I do not communicate effectively with my staff, then how can they possibly know what I want them to do and how I want them to do it? Putting in the time to explain things the first time saves a lot of time and aggravation later for everyone. And I’ve definitely learned this one the hard way!
  • Try to assign those “little” tasks to your staff to do on a weekly or monthly basis. Especially things like Volunteer stats, computer use stats, going through books and removing NEW stickers at the beginning of every month, making extra copies of literature at the desk, etc. Give each staff member certain jobs that only they are responsible for every week or month and everyone has their “fair share” if possible. This way you don’t have to keep delegating these things. Then when there is downtime, the staff will have their own work to do without having to ask.
  • Set up a staff command center. OK, so this is one of my more recent ideas and it’s not quite finished, but I have tried to set up an area behind the Children’s Room desk with a clipboard for each of my staff so that I can leave them messages about projects I need their help with. This way it’s clear to whom I am assigning the job if I am not there to personally hand it to them. The center also contains the staff bulletin board and the staff folders.
  • Find out what your staff is interested in and what skills they have to offer. I’m lucky because my staff likes to be busy and likes to feel like they are contributing. Whenever possible, I try to give them tasks that appeal their strengths and hold their interest. If they
  • Just because someone likes to do something, doesn’t necessarily means they should be doing it. Again, that “who am I” guilt creeps in. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. And while I want my staff to enjoy their work, I also can’t let everyone do whatever they want. It just doesn’t work. It’s my job to evaluate my staff, the work that needs to be done, and who I think should do it. And that can be hard to explain to someone who really likes to do certain things, but maybe would be better suited doing something else. Again, good communication can come in handy here!
  • Re-evaluate what the staff has been doing and make changes if needed.  Sometimes things just aren’t working. This is especially hard if you as the manager doesn’t think it’s working, but the employee doesn’t. It can be frustrating, but if there is time to sit down and go over how you would prefer a task to be done with your staff, that is preferable to simply reassigning the task to someone else. But sometimes there isn’t a choice. Warning: some people do not respond well to abrupt changes to their job! have ideas, I try to work with them.
  • Delegating work means you are part of a team. Ultimately I know that I am only able to accomplish my programming goals and the goals of my library when everyone helps out and shares the workload. It’s not rocket science, but it’s more involved than you’d think, especially when you have a small, close-knit staff. It’s not easy for me sometimes, but as long as I keep the big goals in mind, it’s manageable. (no pun intended)

To be honest, this list changed drastically as I wrote this post. And I think it created more issues in my mind than I had originally thought of! I didn’t even write about half of them! I can’t say I always handle things as well as I should, but I try to learn from my mistakes and try something else. Please comment if you have any other library delegating tips or management topics to discuss!


SYNC: Free Summer Audiobook Program for Teens

Guess who’s back? Back again. SYNC is back. Tell a friend!

Apologies to Eminem and everyone everywhere for that intro. I’m just so excited that the SYNC Audiobooks for Teens summer program is returning for its 8th year with even more weeks of FREE! audiobooks.

Here are the highlights:

  • For teens 13+
  • 32 audiobooks (2 per week) starting on April 27
  • A mix of classic and modern titles from authors including Nikki Grimes, M.T. Anderson, Ruta Sepetys and W.E.B. DuBois
  • Sponsored by Audiofile and “powered” by OverDrive (download the app to start listening!)
  • Sign up to get an email when titles become available at or text “syncYA” to 25827
  • Download and listen!

Titles are only available during a specific week, but once downloaded, they are yours to keep. Tell your teens to clear some space on their smartphones.  Print some posters and utilize other promotional materials from the Toolkit. And get everyone reading!

Ask An Agent: How Do You Partner with Schools?

askanagent2You’ve got questions,  we’ve got answers! Our volunteer Agents are on the job! Here’s what they have to say this week….

Question:  What ways to you partner with schools in your community (beyond providing books and research resources)?


Easy Crafts for Star Wars Lovers

No matter whether you love or hate Star Wars, chances are you’ve felt at least a little of the excitement trembling within the force this week. With the Star Wars Celebration ending in Orlando this weekend and mass explosion of information for what’s new with the franchise going forward (Princess Leia and Captain Phasma booksKelly Marie Tran joining The Last Jedi film, to name a couple), along with the teaser trailer for The Last Jedi, there has been non-stop Star Wars. And two very important days in the Star Wars lexicon are coming up:  May the Fourth Be With You / Star Wars Day, and Revenge of the Fifth. Are you prepared?

Do not give in to the Dark Side! (Unless they offer awesome cookies….) We have gathered up easy crafts that can be set out to engage even the most curious of Jawas and Ewoks and keep them occupied for a while, even if Revenge of the Fifth falls directly on Free Comic Book Day this year.


Teens Say the Darndest Things

We all know that teens can be characters. If you’ve ever just sat and overheard a teen conversation, you know that teens can say the darndest things. The TSU agents thought we’d some some of our funnier moments today.

Pam says:

My favorite conversations were the ones teens had while playing on our PS4. Something about the nature of gaming just loosens the tongue.

“You smell like onions and you have gum in your mouth.” Classic insult.

Teen #1: “You know, it’s Rule 34.”
Teen #2: [bewildered] “Ummmm, is that about sex?”

Once, there was a guy and his two girl friends sitting, watching another friend play a game. One of the girls decided to give her makeup a post-school refresh, so she pulled out a mirror, a mascara, and a lash curler. The guy looked on in slight bewilderment. He made a comment like, “How do you DO that?” and she decided to show him. The best part was when she came at him with the lash curler. He completely freaked out and was like, “Don’t touch my eye! OMG don’t!” and then there was some high-pitched squeaking. Same with the mascara wand–he was convinced that she was going to poke his eye out. She just rolled her eyes. It was a delightful little gender role-reversal.


Molly says:

TAB meeting talk…

Me: OK guys, give me some ideas for Teen Summer Reading Prizes.

Teen boy: Krispy Kremes.

Me: You want donuts as a Summer Reading prize?

Teen boy: They’re really good.


Some teens were throwing things in the lobby and I casually reminded them that we have security cameras. One of the girls asked if there were cameras in the elevator. I hesitated (because I totally wanted them to think they had to behave in the elevator!) but I told them the truth that no, there were no cameras in there. The girl looked relieved. “That’s good,” she said, “because I just changed my clothes in there.”

I told her that really wasn’t a good idea.


Teen boy: “When I die, I’m planning to haunt the library so I can read in the afterlife.”

Me: “That’s cool….”

I consider myself young and hip, but sometimes I become acutely aware of the generation gap.

Exhibit A: Anime Club

The scene: Watching Hetalia: Axis Powers, close-up on a rotary-dial phone.

Teen Boy: What’s that?

Me: That’s an old-school phone.

Teen Boy: Wait, what??

Exhibit B: Titanic Centennial Program

Teen Girl: Are you going to go see the new movie that’s coming out, the one with Leonardo DiCaprio?

Me: Nope, saw it in the theater the first time it came out. It’s a great movie, but I’m sure the boat still sinks.

[crickets, exchanging of looks]

Teen Boy: How old ARE you…exactly?

Beyond the Pixels: Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

“NO, WAIT!  Did you say it has two blue wires, one white, and two yellow?”

“YES, that’s what I said!  15 seconds!”

“Okay, okay – wait…hold on…I swear I saw it right here…”



Keep Talking & Nobody Explodes (KT&NE for short) fills a unique place in gaming – it’s got all the hallmarks of a board game, but it’s generally played with a printed paper manual and a computer (or a VR headset, if you have one of those).  KT&NE is a game where one player, sitting at a computer, has a virtual bomb that they must defuse based on their teammates instructions who are looking at the bomb defusal manual.  The bomb defuser (the person at the computer) has to describe the bomb in detail to get their defusal team to figure out where in the manual they need to be looking.  The game starts off with easy bombs – just one or two things that need to be figured out, perhaps – and progressively get more difficult, with multiple modules that you have to solve and environmental issues, like the lights flickering in and out.

This game is hilariously social and played well with a group of four of us.  Three people pored over the manual while another sat at the computer, describing the bomb as best they could without really knowing what they needed to be describing to get us to the information we were looking for.  Eventually, some shorthand was created regarding certain symbols – “There’s a smiley tongue face, a jacked up 3, and Tim Bob!” – but since puzzles are procedurally generated, you never know what the level is really going to throw at you.  It’s fun if you, as the person defusing the bomb, regularly update your team with the countdown timer until the bomb explodes.  It heightens the anxiety and sense of impending doom!  Of course, strategically, this isn’t the best way to go…but it’s fun.

If you do happen to defuse the bomb before it goes off, it saves your best time and you can try to beat the record.  This allows for rivalry and bragging rights, especially if you decide to make this a part of your regular teen game programming.  Additionally, with two copies of the game on two computers, two manuals, and two teams of at least 3 or 4, you could run a competition between two bomb defusal teams!

Really, this game seems like it’ll be a slam dunk for teens.  A social game with competitive elements, uses computers, and involves shouting instructions at each other?  Instant win.  If you end up buying this game and running it at your library, let us know how it goes in the comments!

Child Abuse Prevention Month: A Resource List

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and although not all of us are mandated reporters, required by law to report any suspected abuse among our child and teen patrons, the truth is that all of us work with people who are abuse survivors, whether or not we are aware of it. Current statistics report that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be assaulted or molested by the time they reach age 18. It is highly likely that there are abuse survivors in your teen group, whether or not it is obvious and whether or not they are vocal about it.

If a teen does approach you with questions, or if you want to have resources available for those teens who don’t feel comfortable approaching an adult, here are a few things to start off with. This list is by no means exhaustive; there are scores of young adult fiction titles featuring characters who survive abuse; however, this list can be a jumping-off point for you if you wish to create a display or a bookmark or some other resource for your library.

Fiction Titles:

  • Anderson, Laurie. Speak. Puffin, 1999.
  • Avasthi, Swati. Split. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2010.
  • Chayil, Eishes. Hush. Walker Publishing, 2010.
  • Giles, Gail. Girls Like Us. Candlewick Press, 2014.
  • Jackson, Tiffany. Allegedly. Katherine Tegen Books, 2017.
  • Keplinger, Kody. Run. Scholastic Press, 2016.
  • King, A.S. Reality Boy. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013.
  • King, A.S. Still Life with Tornado. Dutton Books for Young Readers, 2016.
  • Kuehn, Stephanie. Charm & Strange. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013.
  • Mattieu, Jennifer. Afterward. Roaring Brook Press, 2016.
  • Oakes, Stephanie. The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly. Dial/Penguin, 2015.
  • Summers, Courtney. All the Rage. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2015.

Nonfiction Titles:

  • Bass, Ellen. The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse. Harper Perennial, 1994.
  • Clark, Annie. We Believe You: Survivors of Campus Sexual Assault Speak Out. Holt Paperbacks, 2016.
  • Feuereisen, Patti. Invisible Girls: The Truth About Sexual Abuse — A Book for Teen Girls, Young Women, and Everyone Who Cares About Them. Seal Press, 2005.
  • Lehman, Carolyn. Strong at the Heart: How It Feels to Heal from Sexual Abuse. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2005.
  • Nakazawa, Donna. Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal. Atria Books, 2015.
  • Stoian, Maria. Take It as a Compliment. Singing Dragon, 2015.

Web Resources: