Community Resources

When we think about resources we often jump to technology resources. Whether it is a website, social media, a blog, we all have an abundance of those that we go to when we are searching for new program ideas and new things to do at the library. I know I feel stuck sometimes as it seems like I am seeing the same thing over and over again. A great way to break this slump is to look into what the other groups in your community are doing.

For example, a colleague and I were discussing wanting to offer a babysitting training program at the library. I first researched the local park district (where I took the program as a child), when I didn’t find it there, I looked at other libraries in the area. I found in one library’s newsletter that they had recently done one, and in their description it gave the service they did it through. Looking at that service’s website, I had some questions, so I emailed the other library. By sharing with each other what we do and why it worked (or why it didn’t), we can successfully help provide for not our community we serve, but our area as a whole.

By looking at other libraries, park districts, and even school programming, we can provide things that our patrons might be interested as well. What is great is it does not have to be exactly the same, it can be tweaked to fit the needs of your patrons. It is also exciting when you see something you may have started, take off for patrons that might not attend your library. After I started Finals Cafe, where we have the therapy dogs come and dinner is provided for students while they study, the next finals season I noticed other libraries in the area offering the same there, where they hadn’t before.

Library world is small, and we can really help each other out by communicating and sharing ideas! If you might be in a smaller, rural library, another way to get involved with the community would be to join Facebook groups and pages just like TSU. TSU has a Facebook group you can join, there is also a Teen Librarians group, as well as Programmer’s Interest Groups, and more. You can also contact your state library association to help put you in touch with a group they might have or if there is someone that might be closer to you than you think!

10 Adult Nonfiction Books That Teens Will Love

As a lifelong lover of nonfiction, it always breaks my heart a bit when people say they don’t read it. I’ve heard that it’s boring or like reading a textbook. Some readers assume nonfiction books are full of dates and names they’ll be forced to remember. The world is filled with excellent and engaging nonfiction, though, and I love adding it to the shelves of the school libraries where I work.

There’s a lot of great teen nonfiction out there, but there’s also a lot of adult nonfiction that I’d love to see my patrons read. Today I’m sharing ten adult nonfiction books and the patrons with whom I’d share them.

All summaries are from NoveList. 


For the teen who’s interested in politics:

Becoming book cover

Becoming by Michelle Obama

An intimate memoir by the former First Lady chronicles the experiences that have shaped her remarkable life, from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago through her setbacks and achievements in the White House.

For the teen who’s heading off to college:

Missoula book cover

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer

In Missoula, Krakauer chronicles the searing experiences of several women in Missoula — the nights when they were raped; their fear and self-doubt in the aftermath; the way they were treated by the police, prosecutors, defense attorneys; the public vilification and private anguish; their bravery in pushing forward and what it cost them.

For the teen who reads gripping thrillers: 

Dopesick book cover

Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy

In a book that includes deeply human and unforgettable portraits of the families and first responders affected, the author takes readers into the epicenter of America’s more than 20-year struggle with opioid addiction.

For the teen who loves to laugh:

Born a Crime book cover

Born a Crime: Stories of a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, shares his remarkable story of growing up in South Africa, with a black South African mother and a white European father at a time when it was against the law for a mixed-race child like him to exist. In a country where racism barred blacks from social, educational, and economic opportunity, Trevor surmounted staggering obstacles and created a promising future for himself, thanks to his mother’s unwavering love and indomitable will.

For the teen who can’t get enough of inspirational stories: 

Educated book cover

Educated by Tara Westover

Traces the author’s experiences as a child born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, describing her participation in her family’s paranoid stockpiling activities and her resolve to educate herself well enough to earn an acceptance into a prestigious university and the unfamiliar world beyond.

For the teen who struggles with depression and anxiety: 

Reasons to Stay Alive book cover

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

An internationally best-selling author shares his struggle with depression and, helping those who are confused or daunted by the illness, reveals how he was able to triumph over the disease in order to live again.

For the teen who wants to do better:

The Power of Habit book cover

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Identifies the neurological processes behind behaviors, explains how self-control and success are largely driven by habits, and shares scientifically-based guidelines for achieving personal goals and overall well-being by adjusting specific habits.

For the teen who’s passionate about diversity:

The fire this time book cover

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race edited by Jesmyn Ward

The National Book Award-winning author of Salvage the Bones presents a continuation of James Baldwin’s 1963 The Fire Next Time that examines race issues from the past half-century through essays, poems and memoir pieces by some of her generation’s most original thinkers and writers.

For the teen who loves food: 

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat book coverSalt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat

A first book by the acclaimed chef from New York’s Chez Panisse distills decades of professional experience into four simple elements that if properly applied can lead to better results in the kitchen, in a reference complemented by 100 essential remedies and dozens of variations.

For the teen who thinks nonfiction is boring and unrelatable:

One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter book cover

One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul

A senior writer at BuzzFeed Canada presents a debut collection of whimsical essays about growing up the daughter of Indian immigrants, exploring themes of sexism, cultural stereotypes and the universal sufferings of life.

What titles would you add to this list? Leave a comment and let us know!

Cake Pop Workshop Hacks: Two Easy Ways to Make Cake Pops

For the past two years, my library has hosted a cake pop workshop for teens. We hire a local patron who runs a cooking business, and she’s fantastic, but what if your library doesn’t have the budget to hire a presenter? Good news, my friends! This type of program is totally possible to DIY! Our presenter taught us two easy hacks you can use to make cake pops quickly with a group. No homemade cake necessary!

Two Crock Pots with candy melt to cover the cake pops with – one with milk chocolate, one with white chocolate (*needs to be stirred frequently!)
Lollipop sticks
A variety of sprinkles for decoration
A fridge/freezer with plenty of space
Glazed donut holes
Pre-frosted cupcakes
Drying stand (or DIY with a cardboard box or piece of styrofoam)
Plastic tablecloths
Optional – Plastic gift bags and ribbon


Hack #1: Cupcake cake pops

Repurpose a cupcake into a cake pop. Depending on the size of the cupcake, you should be able to turn it into 1-3 cake pops. Simply crumble up the cake into a bowl, and form it into a ball with your hands. Add some of the frosting to help everything stick together. We used pre-made cupcakes from a local grocery store.

Once everyone has made their cake balls, stick them in the freezer or fridge to cool down. Cold cake pops are much easier to decorate, and the longer you can refrigerate or freeze them the better.

Rolling out new cake pops out of cupcakes

Hack #2: Donut hole cake pops

While your cupcake cake balls are cooling off in the freezer, everyone can have fun decorating donut hole cake pops. Pass out some plain or glazed donut holes, pull out the sprinkles, and let everyone go to town.

To frost your cake pop, put a little candy melt on a cake pop stick and push it into the center of your donut hole and let it set for 30 seconds to a minute. I’ve seen two different successful techniques for frosting: You can take a spoonful of the frosting and drizzle it on top of your cake pop with one hand while you spin the cake pop with the other so the frosting covers the whole pop fairly evenly. Alternatively, if you don’t feel confident in your drizzle skills, you could roll your cake pop around on the spoon itself. The main thing to remember is NOT to dip directly into the candy melt! It’s not sanitary, and too much frosting will make your cake pop too heavy to be supported by the stick, and therefore more likely to break off and be lost forever in the crock pot frosting abyss.

Once your pop is covered in a thin layer of frosting, give it a little time to set (this will vary based on the temperature and humidity of your space, but give it about a minute or two at least) and then have fun decorating with sprinkles.

By the time everyone has decorated their donut hole cake pops, your cupcake ones should be ready to pull out of the freezer to decorate.

Our completed cake pop creations!


You can purchase a special stand specifically made for letting cake pops dry and set, but styrofoam or even a cardboard box will do in a pinch. One of my favorite baking blogs, Sally’s Baking Addiction, demonstrates an easy method using an Amazon box here:



Once the cake pops are dry, you can let teens eat them, or offer up supplies for them to wrap them up to give as gifts. We bought some cheap cake pop bags online (you can also purchase at most craft stores) and ribbons for tying them up.


I’m definitely not a cake pop expert, but I hope you find these hacks helpful. If you have other tips and tricks for cake pop programs, please share them in the comments!

If you see it, Why Can’t you do it?

So I have a confession.  Although I’ve written numerous posts, mostly different programs that I’ve done and how to do them.  99.9% of them I didn’t invent the original concept.  I saw something, I liked it, and I tried it.  Sometimes it failed miserably, but most of the time I was able to make what I saw, work. This is in part knowing that I’m spoiled and have had managers who have said if you want try something different and it won’t result with egg on my face, go for it.  To have wonderful support in trying something new is awesome.

So that being said the first step is seeing something.

Places I like to visit are the usual

etsy, instructables, random blogs, this website, pinterest, toolbox librarian, and for games I even scour youth group blogs for game ideas (btw some of those hilarious games good enough for church are to racy for me to do at the library)

Which leads me to today.

Today is my teen crew party and we are doing 9 square in the air.

for those of you who don’t know about this game it’s 4 square but above your head and It’s amazing.  I saw this picture randomly and said whoa….I need to do this.  Looking at the website for the legit game set and realizing that I in fact did not have 800 dollars to spend on the official version.

So I saw something…How can I do it?

Hello Instructables!!!!

Instructables is awesome in that you can get step by step directions and even by looking at the comments you can find variations on the process.

You tube is also incredible in this way.

Being able to watch someone do something is awesome…tho i’m sure you know this.

And so after buying a lot of pvc pipe and doing a bit of sawing I was able to build it for a fraction of the cost and as I am apart of a 19 branch library system this is something that I will be able to share with the other branches.

My point is the most important resource that we have is the ability to see.  To look out for things that could be fun and open to ideas that might be different, difficult, and dangerous (well not too dangerous).

and  since today is a resource post day….

Scour this website for everything from cheap crafts to higher tech stem activities.

This website is awesome.

High School Paperback Collection

If you read “high school paperback collection” and immediately think “oh, so a classics section” you aren’t entirely wrong. However, you aren’t entirely correct either. While yes, many of the books contained in this area would also fit into a classics section, this section is meant to specifically have the books actually being read in high school classrooms and not to contain all the classics.

There are also a few more modern titles mixed in such as Speak, Walk Two Moons, The Outsiders and The Color Purple that you might not find in your regular classics section. Of course there also all the basic classics like Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Steinbeck, etc. 

The great thing about having this section as paperbacks, is that when students come in seeking out the titles it’s much more likely we have a copy in because we don’t catalogue our paperbacks. It also allows us to have many more copies available without taking up a ton of shelf space. We keep this collection inside of our Teen Room so that they can easily access it. Adults are free to browse the section as well.

During the school year, we do end up checked out of many titles but we are always trying to add new copies as they come in through donations. 

Here is what the current status of our collection looks like:










Does your library have a section like this or something similar? Let us know in the comments!