May Links of the Month

Happy long weekend to librarians in the U.S.! Happy weekend to those who aren’t! Let’s dive into this month’s collection of links.

Critical Thinking

#MeToo is not going away (and it’s definitely not a “fad” or “trend,” thankyouverymuch), and author Richard Paul Evans is the latest to reinforce toxic masculinity while asserting his “right” to hug people without consent. This article in the Salt Lake Tribune was the flashpoint for recent discussions on book Twitter.

Subsequently, author Shannon Hale (The Goose Girl, Princess Academy, Austenland) called out Fan X’s lack of consequences for Evans and was unceremoniously doxxed. Shannon details the behavior of the male con co-founders here.

In other author news, discussion about marginalized authors in Nora Raleigh Baskin’s TedX talk about writing as art provides a lot to think about. Check out what Dhonielle Clayton (The Belles) and Arbuthnot lecturer Dr. Debbie Reese say here and here.

Do you still hear patrons asserting that comics and graphic novels aren’t “real books”? Brad Ricca asserts that there’s nothing fake about them in “Comic Books Are Real Books.”

Library Talk

Do you hear it? Aye, ’tis the roar of Summer Reading Season, again upon us. Teen Librarian Toolbox discusses the issues of burnout and ever-increasing expectations put on youth librarians during the summer.

We talk a lot about managing noise in our teen spaces, but remember the controversial ID policy floated by Flossmoor Public Library in Illinois? Here’s an update.

Book Lists and Quizzes

It’s almost summer, so of course you need road trip books! (Bustle)

May is Mental Health Month, so add some of these books that handle anxiety correctly to your reading list and your displays! (BN Teen Blog)


Plus, we have a Looking for Alaska series AND a release date for the The Hate U Give movie!

Reader vs Reader: The Summer of Jordi Perez

Welcome to Reader vs. Reader (anyone have any wicked name suggestions???).  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 , Andrea and Jenni both read The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding

Reader vs Reader: The Summer of Jordi Perez

Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people's lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby's been happy to focus on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a great internship at her favorite boutique, she's thrilled to take the first step toward her dream career. Then she falls for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez. Hard. And now she's competing against the girl she's kissing to win the coveted paid job at the end of the internship.

But really, nothing this summer is going as planned. She also unwittingly becomes friends with Jax, a lacrosseplaying bro-type who wants her help finding the best burger in Los Angeles, and she's struggling to prove to her mother--the city's celebrity health nut--that she's perfectly content with who she is.

Just as Abby starts to feel like she's no longer the sidekick in her own life, Jordi's photography surprisingly puts her in the spotlight. Instead of feeling like she's landed a starring role, Abby feels betrayed. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image others have of her?

The Quick Reactions:

thumbs up
Jenni: I finished it in a day, so it’s very readable, and although it’s certainly not perfect, I can see teens enjoying it Andrea: There’s were things I enjoyed, like the fat rep, but it felt super shallow and scattered as a whole.

Snippet of our conversation (Warning: spoilers everywhere!):


Ask An Agent: Should I Get My MLS?

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 am lucky enough to have gotten a full time job as a tech reference/ YA services librarian without a master’s degree. I am seriously contemplating going back to school for that degree but I have some hesitations and concerns. I would love to hear from other YA librarians on whether they believe their degree was worth it financially and otherwise. Did they see an increase in pay and job satisfaction? Do they believe the YA Librarian job market is sustainable enough to take on all that debt? I keep going back and forth on the issue. I want to be better at my job and more educated in the field of library science but I am so frightened that I will never be able to pay off all that debt or find a job that will both help me do so and that will allow me to use my skills. Help!


Take and Make Kits: Implementation & Inspiration

Today we have a guest post from Martha Sullivan at Geneva Public Library. She’s going to be talking about her Take and Make Kits

My programs do not see a lot of response from the teens in my community. Conservatively, I would say that I cancel about 60% of my planned programs due to lack of registration, and my drop-in programs see maybe one or two teens during their duration. Still, my job is to figure out how to program for my teens, despite knowing that they are all busy people with lots of homework and numerous after-school activities. One of my go-tos?

Teen Take & Make kits.

These kits started life as repackaged craft supplies from programs I scheduled and planned for, and then was unable to host. Now, they have a life of their own! On the 15th of the month, every month, I put out a set number of craft kits in the YA fiction area that teens are welcome to take and make in the library, or take home for crafting when convenient. These are advertised in the library’s newsletter, which we publish quarterly, and both teens and parents have come to anticipate the kits’ release. I have never had a month go by without all the kits being taken before the next month’s go out.

Enough bragging! What do these look like?

Every kit contains all the materials a teen needs to make a project inside a bag that is 8.5 inches tall, 5.25 inches wide, and 3.5 inches deep, including instructions with process photos. I don’t include things like scissors, glue, or rulers, but do point teens in the direction of our Make-It Market, a space where we make basic crafting supplies available for anyone to use. The number of kits varies depending on the cost of the supplies, but I always plan for a minimum of 12 kits and am usually able to do up to 20. My average supply cost per month is around $50, although Cubee Monsters were one of my most popular and they were completely free!

I find a lot of ideas on Pinterest, or by looking at crafts that other librarians do that I can package individually. I have also done a lot of googling for “teen crafts,” and I take photos at craft stores of existing kits for ideas.

Here is a complete list of the Take & Make Kits I have put together so far, as well as the place on the internet that I found the project or was inspired for the project.


How Our Volunteer Programs Are Run

Teen Volunteers. We all have them, but how we handle them is different. Orientations? Interviews? We’re going to tell you the nitty-gritty details on how ours work.

Andrea says:
I don’t actually head our teen volunteer corps, but how it’s run is pretty simple. We allow teens 8th grade and up (no adults) to volunteer in the youth department. Teens fill out an application that gives us the basics & added to a monthly email list. They then can sign up right away for hours if they’d like. We keep a running list in a book of what events are coming up and how many volunteers are needed. They are allowed to sign up for three slots in the first week and then any others that are left after that. Events range from helping at youth programs to helping with prep to cleaning toys. Teens simply show up the day they signed up and are put to work. If a teen is a no show-no notice three times, they are no longer allowed to participate. We do periodically add the teens and their hours to a spreadsheet to keep a good total over the year. We also prepare letters for the schools/church/whatever about twice a year as well.

Dave says:
I’ve been running the Teen Crew at my branch for the last four summers.  Teens going into grades 6-12 area allowed to volunteer at the branch.  May 1st we set out applications specific to each of our 19 branches.  I offer two orientation nights which teens can come learn about their volunteering opportunities, about the branch, and get their T-shirts.  Teens can help sign up to assist with youth and teen programs, summer reading data entry/prize distribution, as well as some cleaning projects throughout the summer.  My philosophy in regards to volunteering hours is thus: Teen volunteers are meant to help programs function more efficiently but they are not essential for programs to function.  If I have a program that will live or die if I have teen volunteers then I’m opening myself up to the possibility that teens won’t show up.  I absolutely love teen volunteers and having them at programs can make a world of difference, but I also loathe teens who don’t want to be there.  As far as attendance I often tell my teens if you wake up one morning you’ve signed up to volunteer and your best friends texts you and says “yo I just got tickets to the water park let’s go!I really prefer you went to the water park if that’s what you want to do.  Volunteers who don’t want to be there are one of the worst things that can happen to my programs, they can bring the energy down of the whole room.  I tell my volunteers you have until midnight the day of volunteering to email me and say hey sorry I missed it, I chose to do something else.  I say 3 no shows, No emails communicates to me that summer is too busy and maybe school year volunteering is more their speed where there are no commitments and I’m totally cool with that I still think you’re awesome it just didn’t work out and we’re cool.

Molly says:

A few years ago I upgraded our teen volunteer program and laid out specific “jobs” with detailed descriptions. Teens fill out an online application and include what jobs they are interested in. Everyone who fills out an application is automatically added to my Teen Volunteer list so I can include them in my monthly emails and also if anything comes up where we need volunteers on short notice. I recently changed my online application from a google form (which was more detailed) to a basic Constant Contact sign up form so emails would be automatically added to the list. Some volunteer jobs require an orientation or a training, depending on what it is. I also use Sign Up Genius so that teens can sign up for volunteer shifts (again, for certain jobs after they are trained) or for specific larger events such as our Summer Reading Party, Harry Potter Fest, or for our Holiday Craft Fair. Using this program makes it much easier to manage how many volunteers I need and I don’t get a bunch of emails from teens or parents telling me when they can volunteer. The program is still a work in progress, but one of the main goals of the program is to help teens get the hours they need without putting extra stress on the rest of the library staff to have to come up with things for teens to do or to manage them. Most people (ahem, parents of teens) don’t understand why we wouldn’t want a zillion teens helping at the library everyday. But as we know, volunteers often make more work for library staff than the other way around! I try to give teens jobs they can do on their own with as little supervision by other staff as possible. I also give teens volunteer hours for attending teen programs such as TAB or other events where I don’t think I would otherwise have a big attendance. Pretty sure that’s how I got 15 teens to attend a Teen Financial Workshop presented by a local bank. Definitely a “win” for everyone!