Welcome to our YA Smackdown Round-Up! For those of you who haven’t heard about it, YA Smackdown is an informal, guerrilla-style idea-sharing activity for teen library service professionals. It’s always fun, and there’s something to learn for everyone.
You can join in on a Smackdown at various professional events, start your own with our handy downloadable kit, or join in on a TSU-hosted challenge on social media every Wednesday! (Find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.)
After each month, we’ll post a collection of some of the more noteworthy responses. We hope you’ll all join in every week!
What’s the most successful or impressive reference question you’ve answered for a teen patron?
“One of our regulars came up to the desk and asked, “Can you help me with a research question? Is that something you do?” After facepalming, I told her I absolutely could! She wanted to know what the difference between the Chancellor and the President of Germany were. We went on Gale Virtual Reference and Encyclopedia Britannica, and her brain basically exploded when I showed her the citation tools. Not a super exciting reference interaction, but still a good one!” – Alice S.
“Why does the clock need to be synchronized by remote control from a satellite in Seattle Washington? Bizarre by far.This happened during the change in daylight savings time and the clocks are programmed through a satellite frequency wave apparently centered out west. Can you imagine that. We are in Wisconsin.” – Laurie S.
“I don’t know if it’s the most impressive, but my first reference question ever was a teen boy who asked ‘How do I become a Juggalo?'” – Katie M.
What would you do if a non-teen was hanging out in the teen space? Does it make a difference if they are too young or too old?
“Anyone is welcome into the teen space to browse and find materials, but our computers and “hang-out space” is pretty strictly teen only, which we enforce. Our New Adult and recently-aged-out crowd can use it until school lets out, which they’ve been pretty understanding about. Under-twelves are not allowed in (except to find materials), and they know it; getting caught sneaking in means an extra month after they turn twelve until they can use the space.” – Martha S.
“I’ve ‘warned’ adults sitting in the teen area that in X minutes, school will be out and the teens will fill the rest of this space. Letting them know that it’s gonna get loud and giving them a chance to escape. They usually thank me as they pack up their stuff and skedaddle.” – Ellen J.
“We allow adults to come in and take a brief look around (I usually make it a guided tour so I can point out the features and expedite the process), or come in to retrieve their teen. We will also sometimes allow the meeting/quiet study rooms we have reserved for teens to be used by adults during certain times of the day, namely when teens are at school. Beyond that, if an adult wants to just come in and hang out, we politely tell them that this area is reserved for teens and shoo them out.” – John D.
“I would loooooove to be able to enforce my YA area as a teens-only space. But we’re such a small library that lots of times adults sit there to read (which of course makes teens not want to be there) or tutors with elementary school kids sit there (and they always mess with my materials and passive programs). I’ve been told I can’t make them sit elsewhere, though.” – Kayla M.
This one also led to some interesting follow-up questions and discussion, too:
How would you handle it if, after asking someone to leave the space, they gave you some pushback?
“I tell them that the entire rest of the library is for adults and this one small section is set aside for teens.” – Ellen J.
“Refer to policy and explain the need for teens to have their own space. If admin has your back, bring them into it if the adult won’t back down. If it gets ridiculous, politely tell the adult that they need to leave the area or they’ll be escorted out for violation of policy.” – Molly C.
What do you do if someone looks like they’re on the cusp–maybe a little too old/young, but you’re not sure? Do you give them the benefit of the doubt?
“We’ve given the benefit of the doubt before, but usually if it’s after school and we have the whole gamut of ages in there, we will find a way to ask unobtrusively to be on the safe side. Asking “what school do you go to again?” has gotten me info before.” – Regina T.
“I started a sign-in sheet so that they can sort of police themselves with the added bonus of being able to show higher ups if they doubt that teens are using the space.” – Iza G.
Cardigan, or no cardigan?
“I’m wearing one right now!” – Martha S.
“I’m a rebel – scarves all the way baby!” – Liz B.
“No cardigan. Ever.” – Sharon L.
“Cardiganz4Lyfe” – Emily F.
What’s your most successful cooking program?
“Teen Iron Chef. We actually didn’t cook anything at all! Instead it was more of a mix between Chopped and Teen Iron Chef where they had an ingredient table and had to create their dish using the secret ingredient as the main theme.” – Amanda H.
“Cooking 101: We made mini omelets in my panini press, zucchini chips, smoothies, and taco salad boats. The kids were thrilled and loved doing the prep and working in groups. It was a huge amount of work, but so worth it!!” – Katie M.
“We did a Nutritious Bake-Off one time. We had local restaurant owners judge dishes that the teens created themselves, made at home, and brought in to sample. Had to fit the criteria of healthy and created by teens themselves. Fun!” – Christine C.
“I’ve done a couple of versions of Cupcake Wars — my best one they had to decorate on a theme (could work in groups to incorporate more cupcakes into their design) and then they had to write up an explanation of their inspiration. We got some really fabulous designs and inspirations. I loved it! I also had an “Insomniac Cafe” that was midnight snacks several years ago and was recently told from a Mom that her son (now a senior) still makes pizza bagels in the toaster oven from that program. Yay!” – Anna H.
“‘Making Ramen Healthy’…I had a presentation on the history, and different types of ramen. The teens had the normal bagged ramen with one serving each. They collected a bunch of veggies and different things for the broth, I had laid out buffet style. Myself and a volunteer went around giving them hot water. They let just the noodles and broth cook for a bit and then added veggies for the last bit. They just covered their bowls with tin foil to keep the heat and steam in. We watched an anime called “Ramen Fighter” while they ate.” – Sonya H.
“Nuke Your Food!: every teen received a mug they could decorate with oil based sharpies and then they made different microwave recipes. So from cake to pizza to mac and cheese in a mug!” – Alice S.
“Masterchef: Twinkies edition! They were each given several twinkies plus ingredients like (hot sauce, peanut butter, caramel syrup, chocolate syrup, salt, cereal, chips, candy like m&ms and gummy worms, and whipped cream) They were tasked with creating three identical portions of an upscale twinkie dish for three judges. They were scored on creativity (which included how they described their dishes), sophistication, use of ingredients, and taste.” – Cookie D.