Field Trip! Taking Teens Out of the Library and Into the Wild

Your library is great. If you’re lucky, you’ve got some flexible spaces that can be used for all sorts of different programs, from crafting to programming to gaming tournaments. But sometimes, don’t you just want to get out? Enter: field trips!

photo via
photo via

I work as a middle school librarian, so I’m used to accompanying my students on field trips. But perhaps you’re a public librarian and the idea of chaperoning your teens on a bus and then around in public strikes fear in your heart. What if someone gets hurt? What if someone gets lost? What if someone sneaks off and gets in trouble? It could happen. But it probably won’t. Fret not. You can screen teens to weed out any potential rule-breakers or trouble-makers. Your permission slip will help CYA in the case of an emergency. The buddy system works wonders. Even if you’re in a place where the teens have been set free (amusement park, bookcon, etc.) you’re probably okay. Your teens go out in public with their friends all the time and are probably so pumped about the field trip that they’ll be where they’re supposed to be, when they’re supposed to be there and doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

In 2013 the upper school librarian and I charted our first library field trip. We’d applied to be a part of the YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Teen Feedback Session at ALA Midwinter in Philadelphia and were invited to bring along 22 of our most eager readers to share their thoughts and reactions to the nominated titles. We had a destination. All we needed was a permission slip, a bus, chaperones and teens!

The permission slip was probably the easiest part, since we are a school and already have a template. Your library may already one too. (If not, go to Google. They’re everywhere!) Perhaps it’s not specifically tailored to transporting and chaperoning teens away from the library, but it can likely be edited in a matter of minutes to indicate that parents/legal guardians are giving permission for their child to get on a bus (or carpool) and go with a chaperoned group away from the library. Be sure to include all relevant times (pick up and drop off!), addresses, and your cell phone number so that parents can reach you. By the same token, have the parent/legal guardian provide at least 2 emergency contact numbers and some basic health info., such as allergies and medications. You might already know if there’s a teen who has accessibility needs or dietary restrictions, but it’s always best not to assume. Make sure to bring the signed permission slips with emergency information with you on the trip.

Getting a bus is pretty straightforward. Figure out what time you need to be picked up, how long it will take to get to your destination (always build in 30 minutes extra), how long you plan to stay, when you’ll depart and what time you’ll arrive back. If you don’t have go-to transportation provider, be sure to call 2-3 bus rental companies for price quotes. If the trip you’re taking will require 2+ hours of travel in either direction, you may also want to consider a coach bus, which will allow for more comfort and a bathroom. When we were going to Philadelphia we had students arrive at campus at 6:15am for a 6:30am departure. The trip to Center City would take 2.5 hours (plus 30 minutes, JIC!). We wanted to get there for 9:30am so that our teens would have plenty of time to run amok in the exhibits before lunch with the other teens and the teen feedback session itself. We got back on the bus at 3:30 with 22 teens exhausted from their moment in the spotlight and from carrying around bags upon bag of free swag. A few quick notes on the bus: Always bring printed directions to your destination. Yes, there’s GPS, but it’s good to have a back-up. Make sure to get the driver’s cell phone number (and give him/her yours) before you get off the bus at your destination. That will make it easier to reconnect when you’re ready to depart, especially if they had to drop you off and then park elsewhere.

Finding a few more chaperones – particularly for a Saturday trip that would take the whole day AND require a very early morning – can be a challenge. At my school, we use a chaperone to student ratio of around 1:7 (definitely not over 1:10). When I first mentioned the trip to a few of the teachers, they seemed interested. When push came to shove, however, nobody wanted to give up their whole Saturday. Luckily, we were able to entice our part-time library assistant (who was hoping to be made full-time and wanted to earn some bonus points) into chaperoning. We had a few parents who expressed interest in chaperoning, but for this specific trip, I wanted our teens to have a bit more freedom, so I politely declined their offers, but kept them as back-ups. Secure your chaperones (and back-ups) as soon as possible.

Recruiting a group of interested teens was probably the easiest part. If your trip is worth having, they’ll want to go. If you’re working too hard to drum up interest, then perhaps the field trip just isn’t the right fit for your teens. For our trip, we were told that we could bring a maximum of 22 teens. When we announced the opportunity over 40 students eagerly responded that they were very interested (what book geek wouldn’t be?), so we created an application. Applicants identified which of the nominated titles they had read and then chose three books to write a paragraph about, evaluating the title and giving a recommendation on whether or not it deserved a spot on the final list. This helped us weed out teens that hadn’t read enough books to fully participate and gave us a chance to preview what they would say at the teen feedback session. For those who wound up going on the trip, it also gave the librarians a chance to make some recommendations on how to better present their feedback. Making final decisions on who goes and who stays at home can be difficult, so be clear about your expectations and any requirements. I talked to my students in advance about how not everyone would be able to join and that those who read the most books and had the best evaluations would be chosen to come on the trip. Inevitably, there aren’t enough slots for all of the wonderful applications, and some hearts were broken, but I had prepared them for that. In advance of the trip, I met with our attendees and spelled out the day’s schedule and behavior expectations for the exhibits floor (please and thank you required when speaking to booth reps., no running, indoor voices even when really excited). I also gave them my cell phone number (surprisingly, none of them have ever texted or called me!). For this particular trip, we also rehearsed having them deliver feedback and the logistics of the session.

Our first field trip was nothing short of amazing. Thanks to thoughtful preparation, it was smooth sailing from start to finish (even with an unexpected snowfall). I’ve never seen the faces of my teens light up as much as when they came barreling towards me with ARCs of upcoming titles from their favorite authors. Watching them confidently deliver thoughtful feedback on the books they had read made me so proud and it was a really great public speaking experience for them too! It was awesome to see my teens outside of library and “in their element” talking about their favorite (and least favorite) books.

In the years since our first big trip, we haven’t done anything near as exciting, but I have coordinated smaller annual trips to local book festivals, including the NoVa Teen Book Festival. When the “field trip” is in town or close by, I forego the bus rental and simply have teens meet me there. Some drive themselves, others carpool. I communicate in advance with parents over email and give them all the details and my cell phone number. We arrange a meeting point and time and check-in again around lunch. Often, they’re so excited to share books and juicy author details that they seek me out more often. I ask that they find me (and/or text me) before they leave. Their parents appreciate not having to give up their whole day to accompany their kids while safe in the knowledge that a familiar adult is present. I was probably going to be there anyway, so why not?  If you haven’t ventured out of the library with your teens – yet – I strongly encourage you to do it soon. You can make it a big deal, like our trip to Philadelphia, or you can make it something small and less formal, like going to see the next big book to film adaptation or heading over to a bookstore author signing. Any way you do it, your teens will probably be grateful and it’s pretty neat to see them out in the wild doing their book thing!


Escape Rooms: Escape the Ordinary

Today, we have Nicole Scherer from Fairfield (CT) Public Library talking about her Escape the Room games.

Sometimes a great idea crosses your path and you just have to say yes. Even if it’s overwhelming, I try always, to the best of my ability, to say “Yes. How?” (A stranger once shared this philosophy with me riding camels in Jordan. It’s a long, wonderful story but this isn’t quite the place for it.) This past winter, my staff and I ‘yes-howed’ ourselves into staging ‘Escape the Attic, ’ a locked room mystery game for teens and adults at our library. It was such fun that we are currently planning our second installment. Escape Rooms (or Locked Rooms, or Puzzle Rooms, or Mystery Rooms,) are popping up all over the country as a fun group activity that you can pay to play. These games typically set up a scenario where teams must solve puzzles and decode cryptic clues in order to ‘escape’ within a given time frame, or else face consequences (usually, imagined death and destruction.) Red herrings, secret compartments, fancy tech things like lasers…Sounds delightful, right?

Some of these commercial escape rooms use ‘a library’ as the setting for their games, which is probably how an article about this trend caught my eye last summer. This isn’t surprising: for some, the library is a place of the unknown waiting to be discovered, crammed full of mystery and endless, arcane secrets. We’ve taken advantage of this image for years now, running an annual ‘Mystery Night’ game where teens arrive at the library after-hours and use the catalog to trace a trail of clues hidden in items throughout the library, while being ‘haunted’ by volunteers hiding in the dark stacks, purposely trying to scare them as they work – bibliographic instruction and chills rolled into one fantastic event! A big part of the continued success of Mystery Night is its novelty – you can’t play a live-action game quite like it anywhere else.

Escape Rooms felt like they had the same sort of potential to astonish our audience. In researching, I realized that these games are, in form and function, very, very ‘library.’ Working together, solving puzzles, relying on multiple types of learning styles to succeed, detecting, problem solving, a strong in-game focus on narrative…!  Most of all, Escape Rooms have that essential thing that can propel teen programs to success – the element of surprise. Who would think that something like this could happen in a library?

This was a perfect ‘Yes. How?’ moment, with a lot to consider. If we could do this, and do it right, we would be tying ourselves to a popular and emerging trend that could shake up our image; we would be demonstrating our cultural currency and with that, potentially bring in new users who might not think the library had anything for them.

Teen librarians are typically excellent ‘translators:’ Many of us have had success with live-action, book and movie-based games before, but this felt different: converting a popular and well-defined phenomenon into something ‘library,’ which for us means, in addition to having some skill-building elements embedded in the game, it had to be low-cost to create and operate, and free to attend. Planning the thing became our own personal puzzle program. As I had started thinking about it with our astoundingly talented Teen Librarian-in-training Marissa Bucci, our library webmaster, Merry Mao, started visiting rooms as a new hobby: she loved the challenge and the way they presented an opportunity to challenge her (considerable) intellect while having a great, fun time. Hearing her rave about them, it felt like staging an Escape Room at our library was almost meant-to-be!

But…how? The challenge was if we could do it well enough: we had to make sure that our game was as close to the quality of commercial games as possible, because in this case we weren’t offering something wholly unique, but something that our patrons might have already had experience with. Calling something an Escape Room meant dealing with a certain expectation in a way we hadn’t before for similar events. We know how to connect stories and games into singular experiences and I had confidence that we could pull it off, even though we’d never actually played one before. (Since then, Marissa, Merry, I and other library staffers conquered a local room… with only a few minutes to spare!)

Teens working on a word puzzle and a song clue from the laptopDiscovering the last lock to open

Right away, we knew there were certain things we wouldn’t be able to replicate. Many rooms feature tech-based elements and incredible customized furniture that were way out of range for us and our program budget. We had to let those things go and focus on the goal: Creating something novel for our audience. We played to our strengths – creating a fun plot, devising an imaginative use of space and the knowing that things didn’t have to be fancy – we just had to execute the program to the best of our ability and keep focus on our audience, making sure that the game was something that anyone could win if they worked at it.

Index cards are everything!A combination lock that uses letters

We wouldn’t be able to match the ambiance created by commercial rooms, but we could maximize the resources what we had, like an atmospheric secondary programming area (with a high creepiness-potential) that lent itself to the concept without interfering with other departments’ space needs. I was  worried about being able to afford the small pieces of equipment needed to successfully ‘puzzle’ the room, but as it turns out, locks, which come in an incredible variety, aren’t terribly expensive, nor is black light ink. Most of the other stuff we could repurpose from items and supplies already in the library (thank goodness for the pack-rat tendencies of our colleagues for some already-busted furniture in our basement) or manufacture ourselves out of paper.

A tiny clue hidden in a tiny TR statueAdults searching the fireplace with a blacklight

I created a (long, long) manual on our program series that gives the technical details on how to plot and design and plan and organize. Everything we could tell you is in there, but here are a few extra things I am applying as we carry on with Escape Rooms:

  • Don’t worry about whether or not you can lock your room. If you can’t, just change the object of the game. Our teams were looking for pirate treasure!
  • This is the sort of program that really stands up well as a series – if you can run it multiple times, you’ll get the most out your efforts, both in terms of funding and staff time. We started with two sessions per day: early evening for teens and after-hours for adults, over three days.
  • If you are running multiple sessions, give yourself plenty of time to reset the room between them. We…did not, so after each game we had a nice hour of sheer panic. Not recommended.
  • Doing research? Need ideas for puzzles and codes? Get thee to Pinterest! There are plenty of escape room ideas. Oh, those party planners!
  • Outline everything – what goes where in the room, lock combinations, how pieces of your game connect. I designed puzzles and codes on the fly, but I would have been utterly lost if I hadn’t taken time to write things down. Color-coded index cards are everything.
  • The same exact game can work for tweens, teens and adults – and we are going to add family sessions this summer. It is worth your while to reach out beyond the teen audience if you can.
  • We had people register individually, which wasn’t problematic as much as confusing for veteran players, as commercial rooms use reservation systems. We added a warning about capacity and suggested that friends coordinate themselves onto the marketing for our next one.
  • Set up a time for staff to try it out before your program(s) start – it’s so important to watch people play your game so you can do last-minute editing – which almost always means simplifying things. Not only will your colleagues help you troubleshoot, they could be your best marketers if they have fun!

The results of Escape the Attic were fantastic: only two of our sessions were not full to capacity – thanks February weather reports – and the players loved it, in that way where they don’t seem to want to leave once the program is over! We saw new faces in each group as well, letting us know that we did reach out to a different set of community members in terms of teens, young adults and grown-ups. Escape Room veterans said they enjoyed our game every bit as much as the ones they had paid for, which made us very proud. I think it is because we took the time to focus on what was important – making sure everything worked, continual editing and streamlining throughout the series, making sure things weren’t too obtuse, and that there was enough variety in our clue types to make sure people with different detecting styles or abilities could contribute meaningfully to the team.

With some considered planning, any library with a closed program space could stage an Escape Room. As long as you concentrate on the quality of the game elements – and let go of the fact that you might never be able to create a laser maze or build a false-bottomed cabinet drawer – your audience will love it. The creation of original, live-action events is as rewarding and well worth the time to plan and execute. To hear the buzz building around the event in the weeks prior to its launch was extraordinary, and to see the look on teen (and adult) faces when they unlocked that final clue was always a thrill. There is nothing quite like surprising your audience with the unexpected. Crafting experiences that your teen audience will never forget is part of what makes this job so special. Take up the challenge and design something new for your community. You won’t regret it!

Links of the Month – June 2016

Links of the Month

Every month we’ll be rounding up some can’t miss online resources from the wide world of teen services and beyond. Here’s what we’ve been reading in June:

At Mrs. ReaderPants, Leigh Collazo shares ideas for Using Picture Books with Older Readers.

Don’t be afraid to make yourself heard. Julie Stivers write about Making Our Own Seat at Teen Librarian Toolbox.

Over at School Library Journal read Six Tips to Combat Tween Summer Slide by Christina Keasler.

The newest issue of YALSA’s Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults (JRLYA) is now published and available online with four new research articles.

Get inspired to make some design changes in your library. Karen Farzin and Cassandra Donahue share how their Students Renovated This Library at School Library Journal.

Learn how to build a strong program for teen parents at Ideas & Inspiration from Demco: Helping Teen Parents Teach Early Literacy Skills With The Very Ready Reading Program.

Start a Knitting Club for Tweens with this how-to guide from the ALSC Blog and the School-Age Programs and Services Committee.

Dig into coding programs with Tag Team Tech: Wrestling Teen and Technology by Kelly Czarnecki in the June 2016 VOYA.

At the YALSAblog, Deborah Takahashi shares some resources and tips for working with teens with mental illness: The Calm Before the Storm: How Teens and Libraries Can Fight Mental Illness.

Consider starting an e-newsletter to reach teachers in your community. Jennifer Kelly Geddes at School Library Journal has some practical tips in Trend Alert: Teacher E-Newsletters from Public Libraries.

Learn how to make a life-size Hungry Hungry Hippos from Kathleen Crouse, Teen Librarian, Monticello-Union Township Public Library at the Programming Librarian.

What have you read this month that’s been insightful, inspirational, or just plain interesting? Share in the comments!

Backlist Beach Reads

Most teens are out of school and are looking for a great read.  One of the great things about our library collections is that we have more choices than the brand new and the best-selling. Here are some ideas  for a variety of readers looking for a good vacation book:


Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Auden’s insomnia as she struggles to find her place in her father’s new family leads her to Eli and lots of late night adventures in their beach town.


Noggin by John Corey Whaley

Travis Coates was dead, but thanks to a head transplant he’s back. Too bad it’s five years later and his life has moved on without him.


This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

A misdirected email leads to friendship and maybe more between movie star Graham and small town girl Ellie, but Ellie has reasons for staying out of the spotlight.


Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

She was just trying to win her freedom, but then the murders began. Can she find the killer before she is their next victim?


When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds

Ali stays out of trouble, but the party of the year is too hot to resist. When things get out of hand he and his friends suddenly find themselves in way over their head.


We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Cadence spends every summer with her extended family on their private island, but this summer is very different. Cadence is very different. But why?


Hollywood High #1 by Amir Abrams and Ni-Ni Simone

Lies and betrayal among the rich and almost-famous.


The Fixer by Jennifer Lynne Barnes

Once she moves to Washington D.C. Tess becomes the person the children of the rich and powerful go to when they need a problem solved, but those problems are rarely simple.


Winger by Andrew Smith

Ryan Dean has enough problems being a 14-year-old junior without the added stress of bullies and girl trouble.


Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.


Ask an Agent: How Do You Get Tech on a Small Budget?

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 do you do for smaller libraries that have little to no tech,but high interest? What is the process to obtain a budget for more tech availability at a library? What kind of questions do you ask, or how do you present it to a supervisor?


No-Knit Hogwarts House Scarves

At the beginning of the year, my fandom group requested themed programs.  While an awesome suggestion and one that many fandom clubs have implemented with success, it failed miserably at my program because they just wanted to talk about what they wanted to talk about.  Teens are so mercurial.


But when I was planning our Harry Potter-themed night, I didn’t know that.  I thought they were expecting fireworks and grand things, so I wanted to give them at least one craft that they could take home.  Since we had already made wands at our Hogwarts program in October, scarves seemed to be the natural choice.

Sherlock scarf
Alas!  Knitting and crocheting are definitely not my forte.  If you looked me up in a Library of Congress for humans, one of my subject headings would be: fiber arts — librarians — failure.  I have this half-knitted scarf-creature in my loftily-named knitting basket, but it’s been sitting there for over a year.  It’s rather lopsided and has dropped stitches all over the place, lending it an instant moth-eaten charm.


I was definitely not qualified to teach the teens how to knit a scarf, and since we are quite short-staffed, no other staff members were available.  I had to resort to cheating.  How could I make a scarf without knitting needles or crochet hooks?


My sample scarf

Thanks to Instructables (specifically this Instructable), I discovered that with yarn, tape, and drinking straws, you can make a scarf.  The straws are a cheap and easy loom, and once you get your weaving going, it’s like slipping into a zen fugue.  So relaxing.  This is also a bonus if you have a rowdy group of teens.

You will need:

Plastic drinking straws


Decide how wide you want your scarf to be; the more straws you use, the wider the scarf.  Measure out as many lengths of yarn as you have straws.  The length of your yarn will determine the length of your scarf, so if you want a long, loopy scarf, go long.

To start, snip off the bendy parts of the straws (super-technical terminology, I know).  Thread each length of yarn through the straw and secure by folding the end over the straw and taping it in place.  The Instructable suggests duct tape, but that stuff is expensive and normal desk tape works just as well!

Working from the skein of yarn (AKA the yarn ball), tie your working end onto the outermost straw and weave over-under-over-under until you reach the edge of your loom.  This was the hardest part for me.

Tip: I’m a very visual learner, so I looked up some videos on YouTube to see the weaving in action. 

I clutched my loom in my non-dominant hand and wrestled the yarn over-under.  Be sure to pull tight before reversing the weaving process.  After about four rows, the straws will settle down and stop trying to jump out of your hand.
To switch colors, simply tie off your working end, tie on a new color, and repeat.

To finish, slide the scarf off of your loom and knot the loose yarns together.  Trim as necessary.

Probably the most expensive part of this craft is getting the exact house colors in yarn if the communal Youth Services yarn bin a) doesn’t exist (quelle horreur!!!) or b) doesn’t have the proper house colors.

And there you have it!  No-knit, easy peasy house scarves for fandom!

Teens Can Cook!

Microwaveable Mug Meals in Minutes!



Teens love to show their independence, especially when you are working with teens in the eleven to thirteen (preteen) age.  Anytime you give them the opportunity to show what they can do for themselves, everyone wins. Couple that with food and you have a win-win situation.


In today’s day and age, many teens spend a lot of time home alone or overseeing younger siblings. During the school year, they come home from school and are expected to take care of tJunk-Food-Memehemselves.   During the summer it is even more isolated as they spend the bulk of the day without a care giver. This means they may be expected to not only make good decisions on self care (e.g. staying busy andkeeping themselves out of trouble) but also making sure that they eat throughout the day. Our hope is that they eat more than just some Pringles and Pop Tarts.


Cue Teens Can Cook! This is a simple cooking program catered to teens that parents will be happy to get on board with. While many parents may not want their teens, especially their preteens, to have access to the stove to cook while they are unsupervised, this program relies fully on the microwave. Teens can prepare their own nutritious (I won’t tell them if you don’t tell them!) meals in a matter of minutes with a few simple ingredients and just a microwave oven. There are many cookbooks on the market today filled with delicious microwave mug recipes. You might even find Mug Meals: Delicious Microwave Recipes by Dina Cheney or Meal in a Mug: 80 Fast, Easy Recipes for Hungry People by Denise Smart on the shelf in your library.


For this program, a microwave and plenty of space is required. Setting up tables in your meeting room or programming room as prep stations with a central location for the microwave as the cooking station works well. If you don’t have a ready supply of coffee mugs, there may be a cost to purchase these, but don’t worry!  Local thrift stores may sell these relatively cheap and subsequently available for future programming. This is the type of program to limit total participation to ensure supplies and ingredients are accurately provisioned. Every participant must be able to make a snack and learn the process.


Typically, the recipes call on ingredients easily obtainable in large quantities for a small amount of money, such as flour and sugar.  Therefore, try not to rely on recipes containing more expensive, perishable items such as eggs or milk. There are many tasty recipes that your teens will love that fit into this category. A recommendation is to target one or two recipes for the program itself with the opportunity to create a “recipe book” with other recipes for them to take home and attempt.


On the day of the program, provide the items for the recipes of the day in a pantry station along with the necessary items such as measuring spoons, etc. Make a sample of the recipe as an example to show the teens the expected results then let the teens create their own! They will enjoy the freedom to cook for themselves. Trust me, nothing will taste as good as a snack prepared by their own two hands.  Additionally,  they will be excited to share their new skills with families and friends.


Programs like Teens Can Cook! provide teens with valuable living skills that encourage self-reliance and confidence. These skills will take them far in life. What other programs have you done that encourage life-skills in your teens?


Below is a great Microwave Mug Meal to try with your teens:



All Purpose Flour 4 tbsp

Sugar 3 tbsp

Cocoa Powder 2 tbsp

Baking Soda 1/4 tsp

Milk 3 tbsp

Oil 2-3 tbsp (because it’s eggless I would error on the side of more oil)

Chocolate Chips   1 tsp



  1. Combine dry ingredients in a microwave safe mug.
  2. Add in wet ingredients and stir.
  3. Add some more chocolate chips on top for good measure
  4. Put in microwave for 70 seconds. (All microwave ovens are different. Check on your cake and cook at additional 10 second increments as needed until done.)
  5. Let it cool for a couple minutes and enjoy.


This is so easy and yummy. Only takes a few minutes to whip up and you’re enjoying a wonderfully rich chocolate cake from a mug.


How Not to Go Crazy at ALA

AC16 Pod


Whether this is your first conference or your tenth, it is always easy to get stressed out and overwhelmed with the enormity that is ALA Annual. With approximately 25,000 people attending annual every year it’s easy to get lost within the crowd on the exhibits floor alone. Add in over 250 different programs, plus 2,500 separate events, and your head can swim. However, there are some tricks to keep your sanity about you and not only make the most of conference but have some fun as well!


Teen Focused Literature Events @ ALA Annual

Continuing our focus on ALA Annual 2016 this week, here are some programs that will be focusing on Teen Literature.

Best Fiction for Young Adults Teen Feedback Session
Saturday, June 25 1:00 – 2:30pm Orange County Convention Center, S330 C-D
Come listen to local teens give their opinions about books that are nominated for YALSA’s 2017 Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA) list.

Finding Yourself on the Shelves: Diversity in Ethnicity and Language for Your Teens
Saturday, June 25 1:00 – 2:30pm Orange County Convention Center, Room W205
A panel about the diversity in ethnicity and language in young adult collections. An open discussion/conversation about the importance of teens being able to see themselves not only in the characters of the books, but also as the authors. We need to go beyond the stereotypes, i.e. middle eastern teens always surviving the war, latin american teens always fighting poverty, etc. Also, how language plays a role in the stories.

Reflecting Realities: Transgender Fiction for Today’s Tweens and Teens
Sunday, June 26 3:00-4:00pm Orange County Convention Center, Room W102A
Transgender youth are identifying themselves earlier and earlier, and yet they are some of the least represented within youth literature. Parents and youth alike need assistance figuring out how to take steps in their journey, and often they turn to the library for their primary resources. Join Cory Silverberg (author of the 2016 Stonewall Honor Book “Sex is a Funny Word”) and authors Donna Gephart (Lily and Dunkin), Brie Spangler (Beast), and Meredith Russo (If I Was Your Girl) to learn about their newest works and ways to help transgender youth in your library.


Of course, you can also stop in on committees and get a peek at how they run. Here are some open committees that allow anyone to stop in.

Best Fiction Young Adult
Saturday, June 25 3:00 – 5:30pm Orange County Convention Center, Room W305
Sunday, June 26 10:30 – 5:30pm Orange County Convention Center, Room W305
Monday, June 27 10:30 – 5:30pm Orange County Convention Center, Room W305

Great Graphic Novels for Teens
Sunday, June 26 8:30 – 11:30pm Rosen Plaza, Room Salon 01
Monday, June 27 8:30 – 5:30pm Rosen Plaza, Room Salon 01

Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
Saturday, June 25 1:00 – 5:30pm HYATT Regency Orlando, Room Celebration 03
Sunday, June 26 1:00 – 5:30pm HYATT Regency Orlando, Room Celebration 03

Ask an Agent: Conference Tips

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:  I’m attending ALA Annual for the first time, do you have any advice?