How to Get the Most Out of Your Student Status

When most of us were in grad school all we could think about was finishing and getting our MLIS and getting into a full time job, but there are so many benefits to being in school that tend to be overlooked! Make sure if you’re in grad school that you take full advantage of them!

First and foremost, student memberships! You can get deeply discounted membership rates for various library organizations from ALA, to YALSA, to ALSC, to your state’s group. This way you can save money and start to establish yourself as a member. Also being in these groups you can attend all of their conferences at a discounted student rate, which will save you (and if you’re already in a library, your library) money. You can also apply for student scholarships to attend these conferences, which you will be able to get more out of if you register at the student rate! I received YALSA’s student stipend for their annual Symposium and it was such a great experience!

Second, look out for opportunities to be a student member or student intern in various organizations, committees, journals, etc. I was lucky enough to be chosen by Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) to be one of two student members for the duration of 2018. During my time there I was able to participate in board meetings, was able to attend ALA Annual in NOLA, and was able to extend this opportunity to new student members for 2019.

Third, just because you’re in school doesn’t mean that you can’t present at a conference. I presented at two Illinois Library Association conferences as a student and got my name out there early. Often times conferences are looking for not only presentations, but posters for sessions and other student materials. This is a great way to get to know more people in the library field and represent your school. I met many people from my grad school program, as I did mine all online through U of I, at these conferences. My network has grown exponentially!

Fourth, just get involved! Many different places are looking for your experience not only in a library, but in library school. For example when I joined TSU I was in grad school, and could use my classes and experience for my posts. It’s always nice to know there are other students out there going through the same process and reading about all that they are able to do for the library world before they even finish school.

All of these various things will help amplify your resume. When you start applying for jobs it will look great to say all the things that you have already done and contributed to in library world! My time as a student was wonderful, I had a great program, great professors, and was able to participate in so many awesome opportunities!

What are some of the best things you discovered about being a grad school student?

Resources for Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR)

CW: this post will mention anti-transgender violence and homicide.

This week (Nov. 12 – 19) is Transgender Awareness Week, which leads up to Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) on Tuesday, November 20. TDOR is a day to honor and remember the trans people who have been murdered each year. TDOR was started n 1999 by trans activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to remember Rita Hester, a trans woman murdered in 1998. Now, each year,vigils are held to honor the many people who lose their lives to anti-trans violence.

As teen services librarians, a huge part of our job is supporting teens of all backgrounds and identities, and that includes trans teens, as well as teens who might want to learn more about the transgender community. This blog post is a collection of resources for librarians to learn more about TDOR and some to share with teens.


How can I learn more about TDOR?

  • To learn more about the history of TDOR, visit GLAAD’s page here.
  • To view the list of the those who have lost their lives this year, visit the TDOR site here. (NOTE: In the past, the TDOR site has provided a directory of TDOR vigils, but there is no list published for 2018. Please reach out to local community organizations, QSAs, and non-profits to find out about TDOR events near you)
  • The GSA Network has a great TDOR FAQ & guide to hosting a vigil here.
  • The Human Rights Campaign has a page on TDOR, including a recent report on anti-trans violence here.
  • The National Center for Transgender Equality has tons of resources and information, including a page here about TDOR and anti-violence efforts.


How can I find books about the transgender community to share with teens?

  • We Need Diverse Books has lists of resources for finding books, and has a new app called Our Story for doing so.
  • Stonewall Book Awards are books awarded for their portrayal of LGBTQIA+ experiences, and they have a Children’s & YA category.
  • Queer Books For Teens is an incredibly useful database of LGBTQIA+ YA books and has quite a few “best of” lists, including a list of books about trans teens.
  • YA Pride has a masterlist of YA books about trans teens.
  • Goodreads page of LGBTQIA+ booklists here


What resources are there for librarians?

  • Queer Books For Teens has a page of resources specifically for libraians and educators here.
  • ALA’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, & Transgender Round Table has a collection of toolkits for librarians here.
  • The book “Serving Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Teens: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians” can be found here in the ALA store (I have not personally used this book so cannot speak to it much)
  • Here’s more resources from ALA on protecting and supporting trans youth


Remember that this is just a sampling of resources available, so please don’t stop here! There are tons of interest groups, non-profits, community organizations, and support groups that provide resources and information; many organizations offer support and help for LGBTQIA+ teens struggling and it’s important for teen services librarians to take the time to educate ourselves about these resources. I encourage you to attend a vigil on TDOR if you’re able to, or to find another way to show your support for the community.

Please feel free to share your favorite resources in the comments, or let us know what you’re doing for TDOR this year.

Manga Reviews (4)

I often see people asking about manga on social media. Anything from “Is this manga okay for this age group?” to “What do you recommend?” A lot of the time, especially with recommendations, I see a lot of older titles. And while we all love older titles, I thought it might be fun to highlight some newer manga and give my overall thoughts–both good and bad. Basically, my guidelines for manga I look at is it has to be released in the US in the last year (I said 2017 in general), have at least 3 volumes, and be rated Teen + or lower.

So, here are some of the ones I looked at. (If you missed my earlier rounds of reviews, catch them here.)


The Promised Neverland by Kaiu Shirai

The children of the Grace Field House orphanage have their happy lives upended when they find out they’re being raised to be fed to demons. Can they escape their fate before it’s too late?

Life at Grace Field House has been good for Emma and her fellow orphans. While the daily studying and exams they have to take are tough, their loving caretaker provides them with delicious foods and plenty of playtime. But perhaps not everything is as it seems…
Emma, Norman and Ray are the brightest kids at the Grace Field House orphanage. And under the care of the woman they refer to as “Mom,” all the kids have enjoyed a comfortable life. One day, though, Emma and Norman uncover the dark truth of the outside world they are forbidden from seeing. The children of the orphanage are being raised as food for monsters, and their loving caretaker is behind it all! Emma and the others plan their escape, but can they make it out before it’s too late…?

Rating: Teen Plus
Volumes Read: 3

My Thoughts: I will throw this out there from the start, this is a more slow-moving manga than most. The three older teens find out the secret of the orphanage early on and plan to escape, but so far that’s all it’s been. Plans. Now, I’m all for slow build-up and intrigue and generally enjoy the strategic mental games that are happening. I even grabbed the next volumes because I’m interested to see how it all pans out. There’s lots of room for betrayal and disaster and I want to see who comes out ahead. However, the action is definitely on the lower side.

My biggest complaint would be how the one caretaker, Sister Krone, is portrayed. While the facial expressions are ones I’ve seen before in manga, she is the only character who makes consistently evil/distorted/very caricatured faces. In fact, it was rare that she made a normal face at all. As one of the few black characters in the manga it stood out/bothered more than it might have normally. She was only in two volumes, but it still felt like something worth mentioning.

Also, while this one is rated Teen+, there hasn’t been anything bad as of yet. The subject is a bit more mature, but the violence is typical manga style and not bloody/gory at all and sexual content is at zilch. Of course, this could change, but my guess is the rating is due to the overall storyline being darker than most manga.


Takane & Hana by Yuki Shiwasu

A strong-willed high school girl and a hot, young scion of a business empire can’t help trying to outwit each other every chance they get… But could these opposites be conning themselves out of the perfect match?!

After her older sister refuses to go to an arranged marriage meeting with Takane Saibara, the heir to a vast business fortune, high schooler Hana Nonomura agrees to be her stand-in to save face for the family. But what happens when Hana meets Takane is an unexpected pairing of utter opposites!

The meeting between Takane and Hana ends in an explosive manner, and Hana is convinced that she’ll never have to see that awful Takane again. But Takane actually seems interested in Hana! Exasperated by Takane’s immature attitude, yet amused and intrigued despite herself, Hana embarks on a hilarious journey with Takane that just might lead to love!

Rating: Teen
Volumes Read: 3

My Thoughts: If you’ve read my other reviews you know I normally hate the older man dating a younger girl. And, to be honest, it still makes me cringe with this one, but at the same time, I didn’t mind it as much as some of the others. I think it may be because the meeting was supposed to be with Hana’s sister and not her. She was only supposed to be a temporary replacement and it only continues because Takane likes that Hana tells him off. While there is still some power play due to their social status, Hana holds her own nicely against Takane. And to be honest, while they are kind of dating (courting?), in the three volumes that I’ve read there has only been a single kiss and nothing more. Considering how grumpy I thought I’d be with this series, I actually am looking forward to the next volumes. If your teens are looking for more shojo, this would be a nice cute one to consider.


Your Name by Makoto Shinkai

A story of two people determined to hold on to one another.

Mitsuha, a high school girl from a town deep in the mountains, dreams of an unfamiliar life in Tokyo. Taki, a high school boy from Tokyo, dreams that he is a girl living in the mountains. As the two begin swapping lives, a miraculous story is set in motion.

Rating: Teen
Volumes Read: 3

My Thoughts: So, a lot of the teens may already know about this one, especially since it’s a movie. It’s a short manga with only 3 volumes (although, there is a companion series coming), but one I really enjoyed. The first volume is full of fun with all the body swapping, but does become serious once Mitsuha’s history is revealed. I’ll admit that volume three felt like a slight let-down compared to the other two volumes, but it was a nice wrap up to the story. I’m super interested in reading the companion manga since it’s supposed to deal with more of the body swapping, which honestly was my favorite part. I highly recommend this series for any library!


Here are some manga currently on my pile for future reviews (either TBR or waiting for additional volumes):

  • Delicious in a Dungeon
  • Flying Witch
  • Mermaid Boys
  • Teasing Master Takagi-san
  • Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts

Got a series you’d like me to check out? Leave the name in the comments and I’ll add it to my list!

Programming strategy: consider your context

I’ve always struggled with getting programming right. In the first few years in my library, even when I had decent advertising and thoughtful and thorough planning, I’d have programs that were mostly unattended. “If you build it, they will come,” was a motto that worked better for baseball.

Programming became easier for me when I realized that I’d succeed most if I focused on what teachers and students in my school really responded to best instead of hoping to shape the school culture into the ideal vision I’d seen in library publications, at conferences, on blogs, and, yes, on Pinterest. In some ways, this might be library 101 but it took me longer than I’d like to admit to really get it. I wanted to have the Pinterest-perfect library programs, so I’d try after school events and big pushes for things like Banned Book Week, Teen Read Week, and Teen Tech Week. Usually, they flopped hard, and I’d have put a ton of energy into a program for 2-3 teens.

To get the right balance of programming, I started to consider our school culture in greater detail, thinking about factors like: free time for students, school schedule, other programs competing for student attention, the style of our space, the size of our population (including the number of committed students/ teens), current stats (circulation, budget, website hit count, read reports on newsletters), and institutional factors — (admin support, teacher collaboration culture, etc), student interests.

I decided to work with these things, not against them, letting context drive my programing strategy. For example, we had a passive-program puzzle club for a little while (if you added a piece to the puzzle, you were an official club member). It was pretty fun and reasonably popular for a few months, but because our space is so open (two rooms with a hallway in the middle and at least six entrances), we would have pieces frequently disappear. We tried a few ways to keep the puzzle pieces together, but eventually realized our context was conspiring against us, so I put up the puzzles, and we started a more structured board game club on one or two Fridays a month, when school gets out a little earlier.

That’s just one example of how context shaped the way I do programming. Here’s the bigger picture at my school: I work with in a 5th grade through 12th grade city school with a relatively small high school population (350 students). Our students travel a long time for school sometimes (as long as 1.5 hours each way) and we have a slightly extended school day (until 3:45pm). Students are required to participate in after-school athletics as their PE requirement and most of their school day is structured time, though we do have two 20 minute breaks. Clubs take the place of lunch for most students, and the library is open for studying only.

For us, given the commute time for students and the athletic requirement, after school programming really doesn’t work, and any daytime programs need to fit in 20 minutes or less. So, I’ve focused on passive programs in high-traffic areas (for example, serving Macbeth-inspired witches brew in the hall for Halloween, decorate-your-own poems for Poem in Your Pocket Day) during student free-time. If I do decide to do an after school program, I am sure to have reasonable expectations. Since teacher collaboration and student leadership work so much better for our school, I  focus energy on classes/ teaching, not programming, unless a student comes to me with a program idea, at which point I always say yes and let the student lead because those are always our most effective programs.

This doesn’t mean my programming never flops — it totally does. But, when I focus my efforts on meeting students and staff where they are and having reasonable expectations about the results if I do decide to try an after school event, I tend to not only have greater participation in events but also feel happier about the results.

Reminder: Being a Teen Librarian is Awesome!

Every once in awhile I’ll get stressed out with all of the things I have to keep up with.  Whether it’s sudden requests for a class visit, or running a booth at an outreach event with two days’ notice, or multiple late nights due to programs or staff illness, there are things that happen in the day-to-day that take their toll on our emotional reserves.  For instance, my main stressor right now is someone stealing a bunch of our graphic novels! We keep finding RFID tags ripped out of books, and entire series are disappearing off of our shelves. Talk about frustrating – especially when staff don’t note which items got taken and just remove it from the catalog!  *grumble grumble*

At times like these I do my utmost to remind myself that, despite the individual stressful events and occasional upset patron that we deal with, our career is AWESOME.  A lot of the time we get to have fun and get paid (not well, typically, but still paid) to do it! Seeing teens light up with glee during a program, form friendships, escape their social anxiety shells and build bonds with others like them – these are the things that can keep us going in tougher times.  A patron just shouted at you about the lights being too bright? Take a deep breath and think about when the teens were belting out lyrics to a song or YouTube video!

Just reminding myself of these things isn’t always enough, and that’s why I try to keep physical reminders of things that can motivate me and keep my enthusiasm topped off.  Photos of previous events that took a lot of time and turned out really well, thank you cards, drawings teens have given me, and even player character sheets from our Dungeons & Dragons campaigns have been helpful reminders.  If you’re working on a big program, think about what the outcome might look like to keep yourself going – a bunch of teens all having fun doing something that wouldn’t have happened or even existed if not for YOU putting in the work.

And that’s what it always comes back to!  You are changing lives for the better every single day.  The collections you develop entertain and expand young minds, the programs you create give teens new experiences and opportunities to try things they wouldn’t have otherwise, and the interactions you have with patrons, big and small, let you influence the world around you for the better.  Some days will be tougher than others, but try to remember every day that just by doing what you do, every day, you ARE making the world a better place.