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Getting through a reading slump

As librarians, we feel the pressure to keep up on all the latest books our teens are reading, but also to read adult fiction and nonfiction and professional books too. It can be a lot of work, but it’s usually a great delight too.

Still, we can’t always keep up, and what’s more, sometimes we’ve lost our motivation. Many librarians are proud to be avid readers, but sometimes stress, responsibilities, illness, and the rest of life get in the way of being the kind of reader we want to be.

Yes, even we librarians hit reading slumps (obviously). I found myself in a several month long reading slump during this school year, but I’m starting to come out of it. Here are some the strategies that helped me get back to a place where reading was fun and came easily again. If you are going through a reading slump yourself, I hope they can be helpful!

  1. Don’t worry about it! This, for me, was a big deal and harder than it seemed. I kept worrying that I was behind in my reading goal for the year that, not only was I not enjoying a pastime I usually love, but I also wasn’t that great at my job. Here’s why you shouldn’t worry. Your reading slump is a phase, and if you work at it, give it time, and have patience with yourself, you’ll get back to where you want and need to be. Sometimes, life comes first, and that’s ok. 
  2. Carry books everywhere. Keep books on your phone, in your bag, at your desk, by your bed, on the coffee table. If you always have a book nearby, you are more likely to pick it up in a small spare moment like waiting in line, and those little moments can add up to a break in a reading slump. 
  3. Find something fun to read. A reading slump is not, perhaps, the time to abandon your favorite genre. It may not be the best time to tackle a serious and complex long novel. Or, in fact, it might be just the time to try a new genre or challenging read. If it’s going to be fun for you, read it!
  4. Reread old favorites. Old favorites like comfort food for the brain and soul, and if your attention wavers, a familiar story can keep you grounded. 
  5. Try an audiobook or graphic novel. These are great formats to explore even when not in a reading slump, but I find that sometimes varying formats can help me get back into reading. 
  6. Make a DNF (did not finish) pile. I get that having DNF piles can be controversial advice, but especially during a reading slump, be kind to yourself and abandon a book if it’s just not working. If you have limited reading energy and enthusiasm, spend it on what’s really bringing you joy. You can always go back to those unfinished books later.
  7. Rely on book reviews to keep up professionally. We all use reviews to find new books for our collections or to recommend to readers. Even when not in a reading slump, there just isn’t time to read everything. Still, I find I feel guilty about using reviews during a reading slump (probably because I know I’m doing relying on reviews more than reading the books I need to), but it’s totally ok. It’s a temporary strategy, and you’ll get back to reading widely soon. 

Why You Need to Enforce The Rules (and Feel Fine About It)

Last week Molly posted about When Bad Teen Behavior Gets You Downand she makes some excellent points. We’ve all been there, and we all want to be the one that ALL the teens love.  We want to be the one that they follow in droves, and have huge numbers to show for all of our efforts.

It’s not going to work for everyone. It’s just not. If you let some behavior slide, then they’re going to push to see what else they can get away with. And if you give some rewards while others miss out, then it’s going to seem like favoritism. It’s a slippery slope and a tricky balance, but you (and your staff) really only need to remember three simple rules that can be enforced within the library that can help everyone get to the same place.

Respect Yourself. Respect Others. Respect the Space.

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Reader vs Reader: Jane Unlimited

Welcome to Reader vs. Reader.  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 June, Andrea and Pam both read Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

Reader vs Reader: Jane Unlimited

Jane has lived an ordinary life, raised by her aunt Magnolia—an adjunct professor and deep sea photographer. Jane counted on Magnolia to make the world feel expansive and to turn life into an adventure. But Aunt Magnolia was lost a few months ago in Antarctica on one of her expeditions.

Now, with no direction, a year out of high school, and obsessed with making umbrellas that look like her own dreams (but mostly just mourning her aunt), she is easily swept away by Kiran Thrash—a glamorous, capricious acquaintance who shows up and asks Jane to accompany her to a gala at her family's island mansion called Tu Reviens.

Jane remembers her aunt telling her: "If anyone ever invites to you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you'll go." With nothing but a trunkful of umbrella parts to her name, Jane ventures out to the Thrash estate. Then her story takes a turn, or rather, five turns. What Jane doesn't know is that Tu Reviens will offer her choices that can ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But at Tu Reviens, every choice comes with a reward, or a price.

The Quick Reactions:

 
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Pam: Two thumbs up. It’s exactly the kind of story I wanted to read, and it felt so different from most YA out there. I love stories about parallel universes or the multiverse or whatever you want to go with, and so I loved this!

Andrea: I’m a thumbs up as well. It’s weird and quirky and I’m not sure I know *exactly* what happened or how to sell it but I ultimately enjoyed it.

 

Snippet of our conversation (Warning: spoilers everywhere! Also, this book does not come out until September, all conversation is based off ARCs.):

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Ask An Agent: How Do You Get Teen Volunteers to Participate?

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 a Teen Librarian and inherited my department’s Teen Volunteer Program. It’s a mess and I need help! To give you a backstory, when I inherited the teen volunteers, there was no structure in regards to a written schedule with the volunteers. They came and went as they pleased and weren’t really monitored during their time, so when it came to verifying hours the staff would use the honor system. This was before I came to the department. When I came to the department, I started having mandatory monthly meetings, implemented a monthly schedule that goes out to the teens via email and to the staff in the department and I have the schedule posted in several places. I also implemented the dress code, as well as a no show/no call policy. My supervisor and I also implemented a task box, so the teen volunteers can refer to that if they are in need of something to do. I also on occasion will send out emails featuring upcoming programs that the department will need help with so the volunteers can have extra opportunities to volunteer. As an extra volunteer opportunity, I’ve also implemented a full teen review, where a teen volunteer has 30 days to read an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy), and fill out a form where they have to write an original book review, and discussion questions. I would say out of all of my teen volunteers, only a few out of the 35 I have actually take part. Most of them, if they show up, are only here to get their hour for their scholarships. Short of completely scrapping the program and starting over, I don’t know what to do. I will take any and all suggestions.

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Snark Attack!: Making Bad Movies Good

Movie program are great, right? They require minimal planning, you get to hang out and watch a movie, teens are happy…it’s the best.

Except when your teens won’t stop talking the whole time, and you have to be one of those dreaded Shushing Librarians, and you barely get to watch the movie at all. This was my experience every time I tried to show a movie at the library. My teens kept requesting movie programs, but then they’d spend the whole time talking and making fun of the movie they had asked me to show them.

When I was finally at my wit’s end, I asked my Teen Advisory Group for suggestions. Those lovely and clever teens had an idea: What if the whole point of the program was to make fun of the movie?! Brilliant! Thus, my monthly “Snark Attack” program was born.

Every month we channel the folks at MST3K by watching something terrible and yelling about how silly it is the whole time. And trust me, there’s no shortage of bad movies out there that are perfect for this program. Teens give me suggestions from YouTubers like JonTron, I scour the library’s donation room, search for cheap movies on Amazon, and look up lists online. Children’s movies work well, as do older movies with more dated sensibilities. The possibilities are truly endless.

When I do outreach and tell teens about Snark Attack, they often ask me what kinds of things we watch. I tell them that basically, if the title or cover of a movie makes you involuntarily cringe, it’s perfect for Snark Attack. Some of the “gems” we’ve forced ourselves to sit through include the following:

From left to right: Sharknado, Gay Purree, 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain, Mac and Me, Sleepover, and The Shaggy Dog (Tim Allen version)

 

This program is consistently my most well-attended each month. I regularly have 10-15 teens at each session, which is awesome considering my other programs average around 6-8. The hardest part is getting teens to stay for the entirety of the movie. These movies are so stinking awful that, usually around the halfway mark, I’ll start getting questioned about how much longer we have left. I’ve decided to start awarding little prizes to anyone with the fortitude to stomach a full film.

If I have high attendance and things are a bit chaotic, sometimes I’ll ask the teens to look out for specific things while watching. For example, when we watched Sleepover, I asked them to watch out for cliches and tropes while I kept a running count. We noted over 150!

Another way to make a Snark Attack program more structured is to use MuVChat, a software program that allows patrons to text or use the MuVChat app to project comments about a movie onto the screen. I have not personally tried this, but I’ve talked with other librarians who have used it successfully. Comments are filtered using an algorithm designed to block foul language, or alternatively, you can opt to screen the comments yourself.

Have you ever hosted a program like this? I’d love to hear about what you did and how it went! Please share!

 

 

Teen Librarian Blues: When Bad Teen Behavior Gets You Down

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We’ve all been there.

You advocate for teens at your library constantly. You listen to the complaints of staff or patrons about the noise, the trash, the attitude. You keep up on the latest trends, books, movies and T.V. shows. You try to be cool, someone they can relate to; “hip,” without being a pushover. You do hours of online research on blogs and Pinterest to find that great idea for a program or a craft – something that will get them into the library and keep them coming back for more.

They are the most under-served group of library patrons, the ones you try so hard for…. and they are driving you effing nuts.

Today is the first day of our Summer Reading Program and I am trying something entirely new for the Teens, which, of course, means I had to reinvent the wheel this year and do a ton of extra work. I have no idea how it will go, if they will like it, if the adult staff (who will have to deal with the program because YA is on the Adult level) will hate me. But it makes me reflect on WHY I am doing it…other than because it’s my job. Sure, I want to increase my summer stats, like everyone else, and I’m hoping that this program will seem easy and fun. But I think what I really want is for those teens – the ones that come to the library, but not to check out books – to participate in the Summer Reading Program. More than that, I want them to have fun, to think the library is cool, and to think I’M COOL.

Image result for cool librarian(I’m going to have to buy this.) 

I have had run-ins with teens over the years, but a few stick out in my mind and they still bother me. Recently, we’ve had a group of girls and boys in 7th and 8th grade hanging out in our lobby and just being…annoying. Sitting in the windows, standing on the tables, bouncing a basketball, riding their bikes – yep, they think it’s hilarious to start on the 2nd level (street level) and ride the bike to the elevator, take it down to the lower lobby, and ride it outside again in to the back parking lot. We’ve also found them all in one bathroom with the lights off and their phone flashlights on….I don’t even want to know why….

I feel like I always go through these stages of dealing with teen behavior:

  1. I’ll ignore some of the little things at first and hope it will go away on its own. Not the ball bouncing and bike riding – those I have to stop – but the noise level, the trash, etc. Maybe they are just here today and won’t be back.
  2. I’ll be the cool librarian. i.e. “Hey guys, I need you to get down off the table because I really don’t feel like wiping up the blood after you crack your head open. Thanks!”
  3. I’ll try to bribe them to be good. “Do you guys like popcorn? I have this extra bag leftover from our TAB meeting (insert advertising here.) Oh, and here’s some candy!!”
  4. I’ll throw other staff members & patrons under the bus.Pssst….So listen guys, I just heard a patron complaining about you and the director said she was thinking about calling the police. You might want to get out of here.”
  5. Depending on the crowd, I might try to get them to “help” me with something, like moving tables or making me a list of movies or music we should buy, something constructive/distracting. (I’ve attempted to get them involved in programs and schedule them when I think they will be there, but they tend to just move to a different part of the building or leave.)
  6. I’ll try reverse psychology. “Seriously, guys? Even my 2 year old knows how to throw her trash away.”
  7. I’ll LOSE my COOL. (Like, physically, emotionally and socially.)

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Usually after this happens, I immediately feel awful. I feel like I’ve failed at my job and I’ve failed the teens too. I wonder if there was some other way I could have reached them. I’ve attended workshops about dealing with bad teen behavior and I know the research on how teens’ brains work. I know some of these kids have a bad home life, so they are hanging out at the library, or some are just trying to be “cool” themselves and impress their friends while their parents aren’t around. But sometimes I just lose it and I feel like a jerk.

However, I forget about the other teens that come to the library. The ones that volunteer or attend programs or actually get excited about making book displays and decorating the Teen Space. Those teens are awesome. And I guess you can’t please everyone – but I’ll probably keep trying.

I would LOVE to know about other ways to deal with bad teen behavior in the library so please leave comments!

Cheers,

~ Molly

Meet the TSU Agent: Andrea

We’re starting a new monthly feature called Meet the TSU Agent. We realize you guys have been reading the blog for a couple of years now, but may not really know us. This will also be a way to get to know new agents as the come onboard. Without further ado, let’s meet this month’s Agent: Andrea.

  1. What’s your favorite type of library program?
    I actually enjoy all sorts of programs, to the point I don’t have any that I really hate. For me, it’s more about who is there than what we’re doing. I love when my long-time regulars are there, but an event can easily go south if there are teens who don’t/won’t listen.
  2. Why do you enjoy working with teens?
    There are many reasons I like working with teens, but I really like that I can be a straight-talker with teens. Whether it’s with budget concerns/why we’re cutting something to life in general, I’ve found that teens respect when you’re honest. I also love watching them change/grow over the years into amazing young people.
  3. What kinds of things do you do when you’re not at work?
    This highly varies on my mood, but some of the things I enjoy are knitting/crocheting, binge watching T.V., playing games (both board and video), & cuddling with fur-babies.
  4.  Craziest thing you’ve done as a teen librarian?
    I’ll be honest, I don’t do a lot of crazy things, however, letting teens throw pies in my face is probably at the top. Although, if you asked my admin, it would probably be that I used to do overnight lock-ins.
  5.  If you suddenly had extra money in your budget to buy one thing you’ve always wanted for your teens/library, what would it be?
    Does an actual teen area count? Otherwise, I’m not sure. We’ve been pretty lucky to get a lot of the things we’ve needed/wanted through grants and what not. The only things I’m after right now some maker-space things like a smaller button maker & sewing machines.
  6. What is something you struggle with the most?
    Trying to balance it all. I know I have co-workers who always lend a hand, but it’s hard not to think that teen services is all on you when you’re the only one that holds that title. I’ve gotten way better at asking for help, but it’s stuff hard sometimes.
  7.  If you could build your dream teen area what would it look like?
    I would love an area that is enclosed, preferably with glass/someway to look in. I would want LOTS of space for bookshelves so I could stop worrying about tight spaces. Also, at the top of my list: lots of seating area (tables and comfy), study rooms, gaming area, craft area, & maybe a few computers.
  8. If you have desk do you decorate/what does it look like?
    I currently decorate my off-floor desk. I have a few fandom art up, my old favorite craft samples, and several Funko Pops.
  9.  Tips/Tricks that help you manage it all?
    My bullet journal has been a life saver. It took me a few months, but I was able to find a layout that worked for me. It has done so well with helping me focus on what needs to be done and staying on track.
  10.  If you had to work in a department other than teen, what would it be and why?
    I think about this a lot, especially since I feel I may be nearing the end of teen services. Right now, my top choices would either be outreach or collection development. Mainly because those are the two aspects of my job I love the most & tend to stress me out the least.
  11.  What was the first YA book you remember reading?
    Beyone R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike, it would be the Alanna/Song of a Lioness Series by Tamora Pierce. It still holds a very special place in my heart.
  12.  If you could have a fictional pet/fantasy animal, what would it be?
    Hands down, a dragon. But like a miniature one and not a super giant one.
  13.  What’s your Oreo preference?
    Golden. I’m not an Oreo person in general, but I do love me the golden ones.
  14.  Your dream vacation?
    I’m extremely lucky in that I’ve already had my dream vacation, which was visiting Ireland & Scotland. However, I love to travel so anywhere new is always fun in my book. Oversea wise I’ve been to Ireland, Scotland, Greece, Austria, Czech Republic, & Hungary. I’m hoping my next one will either be to England or Thailand.
  15.  Cat or dog? 
    Both! I’ve had times in my life where I’ve only had one or the other and really missed the one I didn’t have. Both animals are so different most of the time and bring me happiness in very separate ways.

 

 

Subscription Crates @ The Library: Solving All Of Our Prize Dilemmas

Before I delve into just how amazing of an idea subscription crates are for teen librarians, let me give you a quick primer on what subscription crates are in case you’re completely unaware of their existence.  Subscription crate companies are a curation/delivery service where you pay them monthly to send you a box of cool goodies.  Depending on the crate you’re subscribed to it may have a monthly theme, books, geek gear, personalized author notes or signatures, etc.  Typically, though, you have no idea of what exactly is going to be in the upcoming box!  While the contents of past boxes are often advertised on subscription crate service websites, that’s to show you what you could have gotten if only you’d subscribed sooner.

Really, though, that’s part of the allure of subscription crates for people – the not knowing exactly what you’re going to get.  It’s like a present to yourself every month.  Subscription crates that have themes will usually announce them ahead of time, and clues will be given away as to what the next months’ box may contain inside, but you never really know until you sit down to open the crate.  I find that part to be the most fun – opening a brand new box and seeing all the cool gear that’s inside!

There are a ridiculous number of options out there now for subscription crates, so you’ve really got to look into what’s going to give you the best bang for your buck because they are not cheap!  Buying a subscription in bulk – say, 6 to 12 months at a time – is usually the most cost effective option, but it can be a hard sell to plop down a couple hundred dollars all at once if you don’t know exactly what you’re getting!  However, the ability to look at past crates is hugely helpful so that you know at least a general idea of things you might get.  Also, try and find subscription coupon codes.  You can often get 10-15% off of a subscription, and that typically includes 6 month to 12 month subscriptions which can add up to a lot in savings!

Okay, now you know what subscription crates are.  You may be thinking, “Okay, cool – I’d like to have one of these personally, but what good are they at the library?”  I’ve got three words for you.

Summer.  Reading.  Prizes.  Really, prizes in general!

Seriously, subscription crates give you a huge plethora of options for summer reading prizes, trivia contest prizes, video game tournament prizes…you get the idea.  As an anecdotal example, in the fall of 2015 I purchased a LootCrate subscription for the Gretna Public Library to build up a solid assortment of items for the following summer.  When I revealed to my teens at our last Teen Advisory Board meeting that we were going to be giving out LootCrate gear all summer, they got really excited.  Then, when I told them that for all their hard work all school year on the Teen Advisory Board that they’d get first crack at the gear right then and there, they flipped out.  I had already figured they’d be ecstatic, but their enthusiasm showed that this was a great reward and that they really valued what we were doing for all their hard work.

What’s great about these crates is that it takes a lot of the onus off of you, the overworked teen librarian, from figuring out just what all prizes you should get for your teens!  It can be time consuming, stressful, and make you feel crappy when they end up not liking the prizes (despite probably being something they suggested just a few months before).  Some of these crates, especially LootCrate, hit all kinds of different fandoms, so there’s something for everyone.  Harry Potter, Marvel, Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.  You can choose to hand out an entire crate as a prize, hand them out piecemeal (since not everything in a crate may appeal to one teen), or mix and match to make your own prize crates to hand out.

Alright.  You’re sold, right?  So, here’s the rub – there’s like umpteen bajillion crates out there.  Which ones should you get?  Realistically, that’s going to depend on your teens, their interests, your budget, and how far down the rabbit hole you want to go.  I’m planning on sticking to geeky fandom and YA fiction crates, so I’ll describe the two we’re subscribing to at my library below.

LootCrate has a large number of different crates available, but their basic LootCrate with a general assortment of themed goodies is by far their cheapest option and it really hits a lot of the major fandoms.  That’s the one we plan on doing at my new library and is the same one I subscribed to personally and at the Gretna Public Library in the fall of 2015.  LootCrate also offers a ton of other options – LootAnime, LootGaming, LootPets, and partner crates like Wizarding World, Minechest, & Marvel Gear & Goods.

From what I’ve read, the quality of the partner crates can be really hit or miss, though, so subscribe with caution.  Even the main LootCrate subscription can be hit or miss, but hey – you’ve got a lot of teens, so maybe someone will like the Walking Dead zombie ear soap-on-a-rope necklace!  Yeah, I’m serious.  That was in a crate.  I still have it in my closet.

The other crate I would recommend is OwlCrate, a YA Fiction subscription crate.  They do an incredible job with their themes with ideas like Head Over Heels, Sailors, Ships, and Seas, and Run Away With the Circus (2nd picture in this article).  Each crate seems to have some real value to them with author letters and bookplates, fun jewelry, teas and candles, keychains and buttons, and every box has a fairly new YA title.  As librarians we can obviously pick up the individual books in these crates for far cheaper through distributors, but OwlCrates would serve up nicely as Summer Reading Program finale prizes.  I’d personally recommend giving away these crates as a whole since they’re less fandom-related and more theme specific.  Also, while it does give a little of the mystery away, it may be a good idea to reveal the title of the book in each crate to teens before they decide in case they already have it!

Do you have a favorite subscription crate?  Have you subscribed to crates and given them out as prizes to your teens?  What were their reactions?

Ask An Agent: Reliable Job Resources for Teens?

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You’ve got questions,  we’ve got answers! This week we need YOUR help….

Question: I had someone approach me through e-mail about a teen job resource they wanted us to add as a link on our website – JobsForTeensHQ.com. Our marketing department is looking it over and gets the final say on whether or not it can be added. I was just wanting to get another opinion and wondered if anyone had come across this resource or been contacted about it before?

 

 

If you have a question about anything teen services related ask it here! Your question will be featured on the blog with answers from our agent volunteers or TSU team members. If you’d like to be a volunteer agent, please submit your info here.

The Future Is Now: Career Day @ Your Library

If you have a Teen Advisory Board, you’re probably used to tapping them for ideas. My particular TAB is often a source of great ideas that I wish I could try, but can’t for various reasons. Other times, they come up with plans so outlandish, they might just work. Such was the case a few years ago, when my TAB asked to to a career day at the library. I was thunderstruck; my memories of my school’s career days are pretty boring–nothing to inspire a teen library program. But the teens insisted that they wanted a career day, and eventually they wore me down.

But how, I wondered, does one make a career day less boring? I thought I had an answer to this question, but in the end, this was a program that grew and changed as it was happening, and ended up being a wild success.

My initial thought was to do Career Speed Dating, wherein registration would be required, professionals would be given tables, teens would be divided into small groups, and each group would meet with each professional for a certain amount of time. For a variety of reasons (most notably that my teens are good at showing up for programs, but not necessarily registering for them), I scrapped that plan and went much simpler: I dropped the registration requirement, gave each professional a table and told them they could tell the teens anything they wanted about their job, and it became a free-for-all.

Planning:

My planning process began in earnest in January, and I held the program in mid-May. The most time-consuming part of the whole process was deciding whom to invite. A word of warning: If you’re like me and don’t enjoy making phone calls, this is going require a big leap outside your comfort zone–but I promise it will pay off!

But whom do you invite? The sky really is the limit here. Who do you know who has a job? Anyone who works for a living can come talk about what they do. Adults love talking about their jobs, and teens want and need a low-stress environment to talk and think about their future plans. Thus, this program is a win for everyone!

To decide whom to invite, I asked my teens a simple question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I asked this many times and in multiple formats: Open discussion in TAB meetings; an open-ended question on my teen room graffiti board, on every social media platform I could access. Then, I started cross-matching the teens’ requests to people I knew who held those jobs. After that, I reached out of the box, and invited some more people. The thing is that anyone who has a job can help you with this event, and you should be as inclusive as possible. Consider contacting, for example, military recruiters, local government officials, or people who didn’t necessarily attend college. Not every teen wants or is able to go to college, but that shouldn’t stop them from coming to your program to get useful information and maybe even think about the future in a new way.

In my planning process, I was delighted to find that many adults want to talk about what they do for a living–and are willing to do so for free. Here’s who I invited, and all agreed to come for no charge!

  • Teacher
  • Cosmetologist
  • Recruiters from Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard
  • Township Supervisor
  • Police Officer
  • Firefighter
  • Paramedic
  • Funeral Director
  • Digital Forensics Specialist
  • Teen Librarian*

*It can be tempting to do this yourself, but resist that temptation. You will have other things to do that day, and besides, your teens already know that you love your job. Find another teen librarian who loves their job and your teens will come away with a better idea of how awesome we all are.

When considering whom to invite, don’t forget to include your colleagues in your own library! Does your library have a librarian for government documents, archives, genealogy, local history, or another special collection? Ask them to come talk about their corner of the library world–it’s vastly different from yours. Also consider asking any of your coworkers who have home-based businesses like Tupperware, LuLaRoe, or Pampered Chef. Then, find out if anyone in your library has a hidden talent they can share. In my library, one of our circulation clerks was in a band and ran his own record label.

Once I knew who was coming, the rest was easy. It was a matter of setting up the room, publicizing, and waiting for the fun to begin.

Publicity, Setup, and Execution: 

I publicized this event in all the usual ways, but I added two different things to my usual publicity scheme. I gave each teen in my TAB a flyer and challenged them to bring a friend. I also sent a flyer to each of the guidance counselors in my schools and asked them to help me publicize.

Before the event, I made a small booklet to give to attendees. The booklet had a page for each professional with a place to “rate your date” on a four-point scale: Love At First Sight, We’ll See Each Other Again, Just Friends, and Don’t Call Me, I’ll Call You; and a place for teens to write down interesting things they learned or questions or to take general notes about each profession. The booklet also included a tear-out page with a space for each professional to sign. At the end of the night, everyone who collected all the signatures was put into a drawing for a Target gift card. The booklets went into a bag for teens to collect swag in.

The day before the program, I called each of my professionals to confirm that they were coming. Even still, I had a couple no-shows on the day of the event, but I was able to roll with it and everyone had a good time anyway.

I gave each professional a table and told them they could tell the teens anything they wanted about their job, and, if they wanted to, they could bring swag to give away or any props that they wanted. It was fun to see what the professionals came up with: the funeral director brought casket samples and was a surprise hit; the recruiters had swag from their branches of the service; and the cosmetologist gave away makeup samples. The digital forensics specialist brought a laptop, made a fake social media account, and showed the teens how easy it was to hack. The professionals did a wonderful job of engaging the teens, and the teens had great questions and lots of fun.

Takeaways:

45 teens and parents attended this event, which makes it one of the most successful programs I have ever run. Here are my top takeaways:

  • Invite as many professionals as you can fit in your space.
  • Consider all levels of training when deciding whom you should invite.
  • Be flexible. For me, this program grew and changed as it was happening, and that’s what made it so successful.
  • Not everyone that you invite will say yes, and some will not show up even if you confirm the day before. That’s okay.
  • Remember to breathe and have fun!

I was initially skeptical about Career Day: Library Edition, but I’m so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone to do this program! The teens had a great time; it was an amazing chance for me to make connections both within the community and in the library; and it was a hit all around. As a bonus, it was incredibly low-cost: I made my swag bags from supplies I already had on hand and all of my professionals were willing to donate their time, so the only costs I incurred were a few bottles of water for the professionals and a Target gift card to give away.