YA Smackdown Joins the Underground!


A lot sure has happened over the past week or so.

Last weekend, at ALA Midwinter 2015, YA Smackdown had it’s biggest showing yet. (There had only been one session previously, but this was a huge step up.) For those of you who haven’t yet heard about YA Smackdown, it is a grassroots meet-up and idea generation tool for library services for teens, and very much a rip off of inspired by Guerrilla Storytime. The original plan was to put on two sessions moderated by my pal and crime-committing partner, Alice Son, and myself. Due to surprising buzz and interest (a big part due to TS Underground’s early championing of the Smackdown), we decided to put on a third session. The people clearly demanded it.

It’s hard to describe the response as anything but thrilling. Considering how new it is, and how little it had been hyped, the teen services crowd was clearly clamoring for a lively, spontaneous, and interactive event like this. During the sessions, both Alice and I realized how inessential we were for the Smackdown to run, but in the best sense. That bucket of challenges just needed to keep going around the circle and smart, creative teen librarians to keep coming up with great responses to challenges, like these:

What are some of your most successful maker programs?

  • Smoothie stations, with many blenders at different tables
  • Paper rockets wrapped around pencils and “launched” off of straws
  • Bubble magnets, with clear adhesive over pictures

What’s your favorite book club question that can apply to any book?

  • What do you think of the cover?
  • Questions about the portrayal of gender roles

Overnight programs: yes or no?

  • Many haven’t done any (yet?)
  • We have after-hours programs until midnight. You get the fun of overnight, but not the hassles.
  • There can definitely be hassles. Parents don’t always give proper medical info, even when asked. One Smackdowner had a teen have a seizure at a lock-in.

Even the Sunday group, smallest because of the ginormous blizzard, proved our theory that even a small group of smart and engaged participants can make a fun and productive Smackdown. We loved what we saw, and were simply tickled with how quickly everyone took to it. Tickled, I tell you!


And the response from attendees, and the library community at large, was also so heartening. Every Smackdown had at least one Teen Services Underground agent in attendance taking notes, on top of mixing it up on debates of Hunger Games vs. Harry Potter. There was even this article in School Library Journal!

So I guess it’s time for some news. You should all maybe sit down for a minute. Ready? OK, here goes:

YA Smackdown is finding a permanent home here on Teen Services Underground, with Alice and I piggy-backing along with it to become contributors. We all decided that YAS and TSU were two great tastes that tasted great together, and, like those spunky Planeteers, our powers should combine to create something marvelous!

Did you know that LeVar Burton voiced Kwame? That man is basically my entire childhood.


YA Smackdown is going to become a toolkit for teen library staff with ready access to the website and a printer to use. Keep an eye on a new “YA Smackdown” option on the menu bar, where you’ll be able to download, print, and cut out official(ish) cards to host your own Smackdowns. We’ll keep updating our cards with new challenges and questions, and we’ll even have a way for you to submit your own suggestions for additions. There will be information about upcoming Smackdowns all over the country and a page where you can read notes from those sessions. You should also keep an eye on our social media accounts, too. You never know when a virtual Smackdown could pop up.

We couldn’t be more thrilled to be on board the Underground, and can’t wait to see what amazing ideas everyone has to share.


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