Social Board Games (Part 3)

Welcome back to Social Board Games (part 3)!  You can find part 1 here and part 2 here, which highlight some of the best social board games you can use in a teen gaming program.  Let’s jump right into this month’s set of games – Timeline: Historical Events and The Resistance!

Timeline: Historical Events

Timeline: Historical Events is a simple, easy card game where your objective is to place events in the correct order from earliest to latest.  The game starts off with two events on the board that state what the event was and when it happened.  Each player must play a card from their hand either before these events in the timeline, between these events, or after these events.

After you lay down the card where you think it belongs in the timeline, you flip it – the back reveals when the event actually happened.  If you were correct, great!  You don’t have to draw a new card, as the objective to winning this game is getting rid of all the cards in your hand.  If you guessed incorrectly, you have to draw a new card and play moves to the next player in a clockwise rotation.  The event you played gets put into the correct position in the timeline on the table, so it gets progressively harder the longer the game goes on as the gaps in years between events get more and more narrow.

This is a great first game to start off a gaming session or as a light, educational game.  It works well with both quieter groups and rambunctious ones – and ribbing other players when they play an obvious event in the wrong place makes for hilarious commentary.  “Really, Joe – you think that the end of World War II was before 1940?  Are you sure about that?”  Additionally, there’s a bunch of different versions of Timeline, including Timeline: Inventions, Timeline: Americana, Timeline: Discoveries, and more, so if one version gets old for a group, another version can keep the fun running!

The Resistance

The Resistance is all about subterfuge and secret information, similar to Werewolf and other social deduction games.  It’s a party game for 5 to 10 players but does not eliminate players as you play, unlike Werewolf and other social games.

Every player is on one of two sides – the Resistance Operatives or the Imperial Spies.  The game revolves around carrying out missions against an evil Empire.  A team leader decides, after group discussion, who will go out on the mission.  Each player votes yea or nay – if the yeas have it, the mission proceeds.  If the nays win, the team leader is removed from his position and the next player becomes team leader.  That leader then has to decide on a new set of players to go out on a mission.

Only a couple of players are sent out on early missions, and the number of players sent out on each mission increases as the game goes on.  Players sent on missions choose to support or sabotage the mission, and depending on this secret voting the mission will either succeed or fail.  Just one sabotage vote will fail a mission.  This makes it dangerous for Imperial Spies to sabotage a mission early on when only two or so people go on a mission, lest they be found out quickly and never sent on a mission again.  However, later missions are far more likely to fail if saboteurs weren’t found out early on.  This is why a team leader is so important – mission team composition and maximizing deductive reasoning chances are huge in this game.  When the Resistance Operatives win three missions, or the Imperial Spies foil three missions, that team wins.

One of the biggest benefits to this game, despite it being extremely fun to play, is the lack of any sort of elimination of players prior to the game ending.  Werewolf can lead to a few people being very bored early on in each session as they got eliminated off the bat.  The Resistance keeps every player viable throughout the entire game, and the game itself plays quickly which allows for multiple rounds.  This keeps teens engaged and minimizes disruptions from eliminated observers.


Are there other social board games that you’d like to see discussed or that you’d recommend to other librarians?  Let us know in the comments!

Honor System Books for Teens

A few years ago I attended a conference where a high school librarian gave me a great idea. Among the many awesome services she had for her students, the one that really struck me was her bin of honor system books. The books were on topics that are somewhat….delicate in nature. They were books that no teenager in their right mind would want to bring up to a desk manned by an actual human being with eyes and ask to check out. Books about dating, sex, pregnancy, “coming out” to friends and family, and other similar topics that tend to make some people a bit squirmy.

I loved the idea and immediately grabbed these books from my YA collection and checked to see how many times they had been checked out. They hadn’t. Well, not much, anyways.

Possible reasons these books have not been checked out in the last 5+ years:

  1. Teens are embarrassed to check them out.
  2. The couple on the cover of one of the “teen pregnancy” books is wearing stonewashed jeans and several layers of slouch-socks (i.e. too old.)
  3. The couple on the cover of one of the “safe sex for teens” books is also wearing stonewashed jeans and several layers of slouch-socks, in different colors, respectively.
  4. Teens didn’t know the library had these kinds of books.
  5. Teens usually just Google the information they need (yup, guilty of this one myself.)

All of these are definite road-blocks when it comes to circulating the Teen/YA book collection in general. My YA collection gets weeded pretty harshly for “out-of-date-looking” copies, because they just don’t appeal to most of the teens. I try to replace the older copies with more recent printings if possible.

I double-checked with my director, and then deleted almost all of the books I pulled off. I removed the bar codes and spine labels, and put a bright yellow round sticker on all of them so they could be easily identified and not mistaken for a book from our regular collection. I put them in a bin in a little space between the wall and the fiction shelf in the teen space. I wanted them to be seen, but not right out in the open where it would be difficult for someone to look through them. I put a sign up with a short letter of explanation about the “Honor System.” I mentioned in the letter that they could leave the books anywhere anonymously. I also said that if they needed a book on a certain topic to leave a note in the bin.

So what is the point of having these books at all?


Maybe there’s a teen who has a question and doesn’t have access to the internet. (I know, it sounds crazy, but it’s possible.) Maybe this teen doesn’t have a phone or an iPod or a tablet or WiFi or even a computer at home. Maybe this teen is able to get to the library somehow. Maybe this teen is afraid to use the computer to look up a question – someone could walk by and look at the screen. And maybe this teen doesn’t have a library card, or doesn’t know how to find the book they are looking for and would die of embarrassment if they had to talk to a librarian. Maybe this teen finds the bin of Honor Books and looks through it and finds a book that might have an answer and it doesn’t need to be checked out and no one will care if it’s not returned. Sure, this is a lot of “maybes” but I don’t think it’s all that far-fetched.

Out of about 25 books, there are 7 left in the bin after about 2 years. I admit that I had planned on checking every week and then basically forgot about it. I don’t know if any have been returned and taken again. They might have been taken because someone thought they were funny, or just because I was giving them permission to take them. But I like to think that they were taken because someone needed them. Even a book taken for a “joke” might have been secretly needed by the person who took it. The books would have been pulled and deleted eventually and they would have sat in our Book Sale room for a couple of years until they were trashed, so this was definitely a better alternative.

Now our YA nonfiction has all been integrated into Adult nonfiction due to space restraints in the YA Space. The books in the collection have remained “YA” with the same labels, and when I order new ones, they are still processed as YA, just inter-filed with Adult. When I have the time, I plan to go through them to see how they are circulating. My bin of Honor Books is still there, and I hope to add more books to it if I can – maybe I can find used ones in the donation piles we get almost daily.

It’s one of those teen library services that I can’t measure. If it helped even one teen, I’d say it was a success. I’d love to know if any other libraries do something like this. Let me know!

– Molly

Blogging: How to Start and Maintain a Youth Services Blog

So, you want to start a blog related to librarianship? Great! Here are some thing to keep in mind as you get started.

Choose your platform.

You’ll need to decide what platform you want to use for your blog. Blogger and WordPress are two popular options, but there are scores of others, and if you’re handy at coding, you could even create your very own platform. Figure out what platform you want to use and become familiar with the different aspects of writing posts, scheduling them, and formatting the look of your blog.

Choose your focus.

Readers come to your blog for information, and they will stick around if you give them more information, but it helps if you have a particular focus. Do you want to post reviews of books you’ve read? Do you want to write about programs you’ve done at the library or ideas you have for future programs? Will your focus be more specific – reviews of a particular genre of book or details about one type of program you do?

Choose your schedule.

I was selected for one of my previous library jobs specifically because I had a blog that was up to date and showed that I was aware of what was going on in the library world. If you start a blog, it is essential that you keep it going. You may want to think ahead about how often you can reasonably write posts. For a while I was able to post something five days a week, but at this busy point in my life I have cut back to once a week. Once a week may not seem like much, but that does mean that your content will be kept current, which will satisfy your readers and impress potential employers.

Preset some posts.

I can’t emphasize this enough. Write 3-4 weeks’ worth of posts (or more) and get them preset on your blog before you go live. It will take time to get used to having another item on your already full to-do list, so make sure there are posts preset as a buffer between you and the next needed post. When I am able, I try to set up as many as two months’ worth of posts in advance. This way when things get busy, my blog stays alive and active. If I find something timely that I want to write about and publish, I can always bump another post to a later date. But do have posts preset before your blog goes live.

Promote, promote, promote!

Tell your colleagues. Tell your friends. Post links in relevant Facebook groups. Tweet about it. Make sure your voice is heard. You will probably not get thousands of hits immediately, but it is important to promote your blog so that people know it’s there. Add tags to your posts to help you find them again so you can link to relevant posts when needed.

Don’t be afraid of change.

I used to teach middle school. My blog started out as funny stories from my students, but morphed into book reviews as I left teaching behind, and then became more program-oriented as I started working as a youth services librarian. I always had a focus on my blog, but the focus itself, and the frequency of the posts, changed as my life, priorities, and other duties changed. And that’s okay. I still read as much as I used to, but I don’t take as much time to write reviews, which is why I now post more on the programming aspects of my job than I used to.

Do you have a blog already? Is there a library blog that you regularly follow? Let us know in the comments!

Reader vs Reader: The Valiant

Welcome to Reader vs. Reader (anyone have any wicked name suggestions???).  Two librarians who have read the same book will discuss it critically.  They may agree, agree on certain points, or completely disagree.  RvR will challenge your reading comfort zone and dig deeply into the text to find potential problems or subtle brilliance.  And maybe both.  

In , Andrea and Pam both read The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

Reader vs Reader: The Valiant

Princess. Captive. Gladiator.

Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king, the sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha, and the sworn enemy of Julius Caesar.
When Fallon was a child, Caesar’s armies invaded her homeland, and her beloved sister was killed in battle.

Now, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is eager to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in the fearsome Cantii war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators—owned by none other than Julius Caesar. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon’s family might be her only hope of survival.
Now Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries and deadly fights—in and out of the arena. And perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her forbidden yet irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier.

The Quick Reactions:

thumbs up
thumbs up
Pam: I liked it. It was silly in some parts and the romance was improbable, but I thought it was fluffy (or as fluffy as people killing each other for the sport of the Romans can be) and a quick read. i would totally read the next one in the series.

I also really liked the emphasis on female friendships and sisterhood over all else.

Andrea:I’m a thumbs up as well. While there were parts, especially at the beginning where I doubted, I was totally pulled into the world and loved the general story. I was so happy to see this one was a series!



Snippet of our conversation (Warning: spoilers everywhere!):


Ask an Agent: Determining What’s Appropriate for Social Media Account?

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:  How do you run a successful YA library social media account? Specifically, how do you know what is appropriate to post and what is not (especially right now in the wake of all that is going on in the world). I want the teens to be informed, but I also don’t want to alienate anyone, or have it feel like it’s my soapbox because it isn’t, it’s theirs. It certainly wouldn’t be all politics. There would be pop culture, book culture, etc… I’m not sure my Teen Advisory Board would be up to the task, but I will ask them about this. Also, what are the best YA library social media account to follow? Advice from others would be greatly appreciated.


Self Directed Programming for Spring

Welcome to Spring! It may not feel like it yet where you’re at, but according to the calendar, Monday was the first official day of Spring, so someday soon we’ll all be enjoying warmer weather in shorter sleeves. While you’re finishing putting the last-minute touches on your summer programming or starting to put in the funding requests for your fall ideas, I’ve pulled together some easy and last-minute self-directed programming ideas for the spring months that your tweens and teens will enjoy.


Summer is Coming!

If you’re not a librarian, and specifically one who works with teens and/or younger, that might not have the same doom laden feeling that ‘Winter is Coming’ evokes. Not to mention the lack of death and destruction… Still, there’s no denying that summer is usually our busiest time. Second only, maybe, to the lead up to it! All the prep and time. Either way, I suspect most, if not all of us, are in the midst of summer planning. Maybe we’re deep in the middle, maybe we’re just starting (me!) or maybe we’re almost done (I’m envious!) but there’s no denying it’s a large part of our jobs.

As we head into another summer, let me offer a round up of some of our previous summer reading related posts that might help you get through your planning and the summer itself:


Promoting Summer Reading to the Middle Schoolers

Novice vs. Experienced (and how to handle it)

Say YASSSS – preping yourself

Surviving Summer Reading (some more self-care and inspiration)

Here’s the main takeaways:

You can do this! It seems daunting now but you can. We all can. And we’ve got your back. There are more summer related posts that I didn’t link to and plenty of great support in the Facebook group.

Make sure to self-care! Take time for yourself, both now during the prep period and again during summer itself. Do things you love to do outside the library. Keep library work at the library.

Summer is coming! Go forth and be awesome! We have faith in you!

The Teens Are Coming! Creating Empathy Through Staff Training

One of the first questions I was asked as a professional was, “Do you like teens?” I responded in the affirmative, and heard, “Oh, thank goodness” with an audible sigh of relief. I wondered why so many people I spoke with not only avoided working with teens, but seemed to fear it. Teens are not radioactive. You can’t contract Teenageritis as a sort of communicable disease. In fact, despite all of the stress of those years, I kind of miss the elasticity that my brain had.

So what are people so afraid of?

Our collective social consciousness has branded teens as rebels, hooligans, troublemakers, and sex fiends since the teen years were really defined in the 1950s.

GASP! Rebel youth! Girls in pants! Pompadours! THE END OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION!

In society, teens are seen as lazy, tired, sloppy, drug-dealing, sex-having, completely unpredictable creatures. I remember being afraid of teenagers as a sort of remote monolith when I was a kid. To me, all teens had knives and drugs and were liable to commit random acts of violence at any moment. No one explicitly told me this–I internalized it from what I saw on TV and how I saw other people acting.

But look, ma! Now I love working with teens! So what changed? What do we need to change in our staff–coworkers, reports, and administration–in order to best serve our teens?

We need to teach and demonstrate empathy. Don’t just appeal to the fact that everyone was once a teenager. While factually true, the experience of being a teen today compared to even five years ago is very different. Most adults have no idea what teens go through on a daily basis, not only from their peers, but also from authority figures and their own self-doubts and criticism.

In response to difficulties at my library regarding teen behavior and how staff reacted to that behavior, I created a training on providing great customer service to teens. This consisted of a short YouTube segment, a presentation, and an interactive activity. The training only takes about 50 minutes to complete, and staff responded very positively to the sessions that I held.

First, I showed this video on teen brain development to demonstrate that a lot of this behavior has a biological component, and they literally cannot help being loudly enthusiastic or stunningly surly sometimes. We don’t expect anything more or less of our teen patrons than we do of any others–they need to follow library rules. What may differ is how often we need to enforce the rules and the strategies we use to do so.

For example, during storytime, the library is generally very busy due to a combination of lots of people and the fact that most of those people are small, with low impulse control and loud voices. Patrons who come in during those times are generally aware that the library is not going to be silent. Similarly, after school, larger people with low impulse control and loud voices come into the library. While their volume should never be at a point where they are distracting others, we should consider that after school, they are hungry and full of pent-up energy. Plus, teens usually have to talk over tons of other people in order to be heard, so their volume level is naturally higher.

In developing your training, consider what issues are specific to your teens and their behavior in the library. For me, it was running, loud talking, and swearing. You might have some very … romantic teens. Or hungry teens. Whatever it is, make sure those issues are discussed in the training and that participants have a change to discuss how they would respond to those behaviors and why.

Finally, always be positive. Remind staff that teens deserve as high of a level of customer service as any other patron, and that they are our future library stakeholders.
Happy training!

Ask an Agent: Advice for Job Searching?

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 about to get my MLS. I’ve been working part time as a Youth Services Coordinator for the past two years but I am going to start looking for a Full-Time, big kid library job. Any advice?


Pokemon Terrariums

Gotta catch them all and then make them a cute adorable little home! A few weeks ago, I posted the photo above
on our TSU Facebook page and because of the great response, I’m giving you all the details here on how to make them!


Mini Pokémon– You can search for “Mini Pokémon” and get tons of results. We chose the “72 pieces for $14.99” because we used them for another programs as well.

Plastic Jars– For 12 jars these came out to be about $1.30 a piece. You can also use mason jars or check out your local thrift store for some cool ones. You will want to make sure that they’re clear so you can see your adorable Eevee!

Moss– For our terrariums we used the fake stuff and bought moss on clearance at Michael’s Craft Store. Michael’s almost always has coupons available online and in store as well!

Rocks– Rocks are really important in the making of your terrarium because they’re the platform for the Pokémon. I picked these up a Michael’s but there’s always your back yard too 😉

Cute Extras- I had some extra cute little “fairy garden” accessories that the teens were able to add in such as these mushrooms that one of our staff members donated. Fairy Gardens are very popular right now, so finding extras is easy. However, if your budget doesn’t allow them, don’t feel obligated.

Glue Gun or tack glue

Dirt/Sand- Optional

Project Total: $65.00 or $3.25 per teen (20 teens)


First thing’s first! Flip that container upside down! Some teens chose to use dirt and fill their container, but we loved the way the terrariums looked when the lid was used as the base as well!

You’ll want to glue those rocks down first as a platform for the Pokémon. I recommend hot glue, only because it takes a shorter time to set. As always, though, hot glue can be, well, hot! You know best on whether or not your teens can handle the hot glue or if a staff member will be in charge of it.

After gluing the rocks down, we then placed the moss around and added some dirt to the bottom. We used tacky glue and spread the dirt on top. Then we stuffed the moss around the rocks and used glue where needed to. Finally, we hot glued the Pokémon on top and added some extras. Once we screwed the lid on, tada! A Pokémon home was built!

I had about 20 teens making terrariums. The hardest part was choosing Pokémon. When everyone came in, they all got a random number. This decided what order they would go in to pick and then we reversed the order when they got to choose a second.

Finally, what’s so great about this program was that I had teens of every age attend. I had a few 6th graders but I also has all the way up to 11th grade creating along side!

Bonus: If you do a Google Search for “Pokémon Terrariums” you’ll also get a ton of other great ideas! Check out a few inspirations below!

Link 1
Link 2
Link 3

Questions? Comments? Let us know below!