YA Smackdown Roundup, May 2016

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 your biggest teen services pet peeve?

“People who say, “Ohhhhhh, I am so sorry,” when I say I am a Teen Services Librarian. I absolutely LOVE my job but the people who say that to me are also the ones that have no respect for teenagers or for my work and these people make me very tired.” – Frieda T.

“Adults who don’t understand why they can’t hang out solo/make their phone calls in the teen area (even though they’d never try to hang out in the children’s room by themselves).” – Darcy C.

“My biggest peeve is the always having to deal with people having unrealistic behavior expectations for the teens” – Cindy S.

“[People asking] ‘What do video games and anime have to do with the library?'” – Ryan P.

“The contradictory notion from some other staff that teens are loud and bothersome to adult patrons, therefore we should get rid of the teen room where the noise is contained and less bothersome to adult patrons, because somehow that will magically make them less loud and bothersome to adult patrons” – Aaron V.

“How about that our YA dept gets a LOT less budget? Is that only around here?” – Devera C.

“…When my Teen Advisory Board begs and begs for a program so I spend the time and money planning, promoting, and implementing it…and no one shows up.” – Caitlin S.

“My pet peeve is other librarians that insist the Teen Librarian has to be super hip and cool…it’s a lot of pressure, like, should I dye my hair a wild color or something?? I’m just a regular dorky librarian like everyone else!” – Ashley B.


What book do you wish every teen would read?

We had a lot of great suggestions, but the most popular were:

  • 13 Reasons Why (“…because we all need to understand our actions…affect those around us” – Samantha C.)
  • Dante & Aristotle Discover the Secrets of the Universe
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
  • Winger
  • Persepolis
  • Eleanor & Park
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • Stargirl
  • Ender’s Game
  • Speak

“My controversial opinion: I don’t believe there’s “one book” (or any number of books) that EVERYONE should read because I don’t believe in such a thing as CANON or classics – I think everyone, and maybe even especially teens, should read whatever it is THEY want, whatever it is that engages and fascinates and connects and satisfies them. Maybe it’s Dickens. Maybe it’s Proust. Maybe it’s Angelou. Maybe it’s Rowling. Maybe it’s TEEN WOLF fanfic. You do you and you love reading FOR YOU and on YOUR terms.

ETA: and, anyway, all too often “the one book everyone should read” usually translates to: the one book that really meant something TO ME … but that’s not always how literature works. So, instead I try to frame it that way “this is a book that meant a lot to me … what’s a book that means a lot to you … and why?” – Angie M.


What are some ways you’ve dealt with issues of teen body odor?

“Legit BO, pulled aside for a private conversation. On the other hand if we’re talking about the “Axe effect”, letting them know that dousing themselves in fragrance is having the opposite of the intended result and actually negating any chance they had at romantic opportunity by creating a funk cloud that no person would enter.” – Joe M.

“I’ve not encountered this at my library, but funny story (that could be helpful). My 13yo son wanted to buy cologne, so I took him to the store to pick something out. I was explaining that he doesn’t want to put too much on, little goes a long way, etc. He wasn’t paying any attention to me. A young 20-something guy was next to us looking as well, and he pulled my son aside and said “You want the ladies to see you before they smell you.” It was such a cool man-to-man moment, and I didn’t need to say anything else. Honestly, that could be a really cool program if you can find the right person to lead it. That moment for my son was cool, because he thought this young guy looked much cooler than me or my husband. smile emoticon Some kids don’t have a male role model at all – so it may be that no one is teaching them how to be a man.” – Lisa U.

“We are creating “summer survival kits” with sample size deodorant, sunscreen packets, and mosquito repellent. We’re creating 100 packs with donated funds, and looking for a community partner to make it a sustainable project. We’ll have the kits with a cool display saying something about Summer in the City, and books about hygiene, skin cancer, zika virus, etc…Because we don’t want to embarrass anyone my saying, or even implying, ‘you stink.'” – Andria A.


What program was your greatest failure? What lessons did you learn from it?

“Book Bingo. It was my first lesson that no matter how excited kids are when they hear about a program, no matter how good the prizes, if you don’t provide continuous in-your-face reminders and sometimes practically shove them into taking part, they won’t.” – Semoy G.

“Cosplay day. No big programs the week of Fourth of July.” – Cindy S.

“Had my own college fair for Teen Read Week and I had colleges come from 2 hours away to have no teens show up. Next time don’t do a college fair…My teens are not ones who like programs that could even be close to educational. I think they get it drilled into them at school that they try to stay away from it. Plus, we tend to have college fairs at the local high school and at neighboring counties. It is kind of sad really because when I was in high school I loved learning about different colleges. I have a teen non-fiction section that is loaded with books about college readiness that takes them step by step through things they need to do before college for example; when to apply, what they should bring with them, etc.” – Amanda K.

“We thought that we were being so smart when we scheduled a teen song/poetry writing program at the same time as our anime club which draws 40-60 each time. We had the (frankly kind of cute) young published song/poetry writer come into the room where we had anime club and invite teens to join him next door. <crickets> we ended up have 2 teens attend while 50 stayed in the other room watching anime. Lesson learned: our teens want to hang out and chill, not attend another school like class. Positive: the two kids that did go are passionate about music and writing. They got a ton out of the basically one on one with a published young person.” – Heidi H.

“Kept trying to schedule free practice tests over the summer but was silly enough to use a company that had a minimum number of signups before they would run it for us. Cancelled every. single. one. Lesson learned: use a different company.” – Kelsey P.

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