The Athenaeum: Teen Wing Tour

Now that the dust has settled, the grand opening is over, and we’re all moved in, I thought I’d post some pictures and give everyone a virtual tour of the Teen Wing. 🙂 It’s been over a year of planning, fretting, and hoping for this beautiful space to come together. The pipe bookcases, the steampunk gears, the paint…I’m in awe of how perfect this new space is. I’m also incredibly thankful to The Oregon Cultural Trust, Google, Adams Design Center, LaRoque Design Company,  and all of our donors and community partners for making this dream a reality.


Pretty snazzy looking, huh?

There are four main areas in the Teen Space, not counting the Digital Media Lab: The New Book Display, The Study Nook, The Lounge, and The Maker Bar.

The New Book Display


This area houses our bulletin board (with event flyers and a monthly calendar, a large pipe bookcase for displaying new books, and two cozy ottomans for sitting and reading.

The Study Nook


Three desktop computers for doing homework, surfing the internet, etc. Behind them, there’s also a whiteboard for collaborative study (off camera). The YA nonfiction collection – including a number of books on college and career prep, study guides, etc. – sits below the whiteboard.

The Lounge


AKA Hangout Central. Each day after school, the teens all rush upstairs to see who gets the couch first. 🙂 It has become a favorite spot for curling up to read or for playing the new Xbox One. The couch is on casters, which makes it easy to move when we need to open up the space for programming. The lovely gate leg table behind the couch expands to seat up to six teens – which is great for playing board games, doing crafts, or group study sessions. The TV doubles as a presentation screen for guest speakers and workshop leaders.

The Maker Bar


The Maker Bar is tucked along the outside wall of the Digital Media Lab. It seats three teens comfortably and has become a popular spot for doing homework. We purchased a Scrapbox Studio Tower and filled it with art and STEM activities: LEGOS, Strawbees, jewelry making supplies, yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks, origami paper, charcoal, sharpies, drawing paper, watercolor paints…whew. You get the idea. 🙂 In hindsight, I’d probably go with a cart, rather than a tower. Sadly, despite its efficiency, it was poorly constructed and I wouldn’t recommend it to others. But it’s been a joy to watch the teens making art and experimenting with all the supplies we’ve provided.

Bonus pics! 


The elevator door, which is undeniably awesome.


My custom desk and the door to the Digital Media Lab.

It’s been an incredible experience to watch this room be constructed. It’s hard to believe that, a year and a half ago, it was just an idea and a design I’d created using the SweetHome 3D program. I can’t wait to start offering regular programs for the teens in this wonderful space.

Here’s to goals accomplished!

Humans vs. Zombies: Take 2


Zombies attacking the Teen Librarian!

It’s official: HVZ is here to stay!

I was worried it would be a one hit wonder, but “Humans vs. Zombies: Nerf Gun Tag” continues to be one of our most popular programs. We had 32 teens turn out this time to run around the library, in the dark, shooting each other with NERF guns. 🙂

We modified the rules a bit this year to improve gameplay. Ex: Zombies only have to wait 30 seconds at the desk aftering being “hit” before rejoining the game. We still had a problem with a few kids “camping out” in impenetrable forces, so we may have to address that next year.

But overall, fun was had by all. Who knew the apocalypse could be so much fun? 😉

Teen Read Week 2016


I’ve never done Teen Read Week before, so I’m determined to do it this year. I’m planning four days of fun activities, plus a week-long self-directed program.

Day 1: Book/Comic Book Swap

Since we have some leftover donation books and comic books from Free Comic Book Day, I thought we could do a book swap. Teens can bring old, gently used books and swap them for “new” ones. Simple, but fun.

Day 2: Book Art

The teens will use any old magazines and comic books we have left over to create art projects: buttons, mod podge journals, bookmarks, the works.

Day 3: Book-to-Movie Marathon

All day long, we’ll be showing movies that were inspired by books. Plus snacks. LOTS of snacks. Food + Film = win.

Day 4: Book Board Games

There’s a deep love of tabletop gaming in our community, so I thought having a book-themed board game night would be a lot of fun. We’ll be playing games like Scrabble, Sherlock, Book Lover’s Jenga, and Bookopoly.

Teen Read Week Bingo

All week long, teens will be encouraged to complete the activities on their Teen Read Week Bingo Cards. At the end of the week, we’ll draw a name to see who wins a gift card to the local independent bookstore. 🙂

Here’s hoping it all goes well!

Banned Book Bash

Oh, Banned Books Week: I forgot to plan for you. Forgive me, Book Gods, for I have sinned. Consider this my confession.

Despite my lack of planning, however, I couldn’t let BBW go uncelebrated. So I decided to throw an impromptu “Banned Books Bash.”

Station 1: The Food

Additional Confession: I am a fan of terrible, obnoxious puns. So our snacks for this program were all themed around the titles of banned books: The Chocolate War, A Clockwork Orange, The Catcher & The Rye.

Punny. So very punny. I couldn’t help myself.

Station 2: Banned Book Buttons

It is a truth universally acknowledged that teens are obsessed with buttons. The button maker never fails to be a favorite at any program. So I whipped up some Banned Book Week button images, let the teens additionally design their own images using templates, and then cut them loose to create.


Station 3: Blind Date with a Banned Book/Banned Book Mugshots

Every year, I create a “Blind Date with a Banned Book” display. I wrap the library books in butcher paper, leaving only their barcodes exposed, and write the reasons each book was banned on the butcher paper. It is a HUGE attention grabber at our library. Patrons love to try and guess which books are on the display, but we don’t let them rip off the paper until they check it out. 🙂

So, naturally, I moved the YA section of our display into the room for our Banned Book Bash. I also created a mugshot poster so the teens could “get caught” reading banned books.

Station 4: The Movie

I pulled three banned YA novels that had been turned into movies and let the teens vote on which movie they wanted to see. They chose The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

The teens who came had a lot of fun and it was a great opportunity to talk about censorship and intellectual freedom. I think we’ll bring this one back again next year. 🙂

Fitness Friday #7 DIY Spa Day

This was our last major program teen program for the summer. I figured addressing cleanliness as an important part of health would be a nice way to round out our “On Your Mark, Get Set, Read!” theme. Plus, who doesn’t love an excuse for DIY at the library? 🙂


The teens got to make three items: lip balm, lotion, and a sugar scrub (the recipes for which were all found on Pinterest). I set up three stations, each with electric burners, measuring cups/spoons, beakers, ingredients, and recipes so that multiple students could be mixing and making things at the same time.


This was, aside from our Fencing Class, my most expensive program. The cost of the burners, beakers, ingredients, etc. came to approximately $250. Admittedly, many of these items are reusable and we can utilize them in other programs (science experiments, baking, etc.) But a”cheap” activity, this was not.

Nor was it easy. There were several hiccups during the program that I hadn’t anticipated.

For example: Hot beaker + plastic table cloth = gooey, awful mess. O.o

We also had more teens/tweens than we did stations, which resulted in longer-than-ideal wait times between creations.

All in all, the everyone seemed to enjoy the program and our survey reviews were positive. But this definitely isn’t a program for beginners and takes a lot of planning to successfully execute.

Total attendance: 14 teens

Verdict: While a lot of fun, it’ll be a while before we try this one again.


Fitness Friday #6: Fencing


Confession: this is the program I’ve been looking forward to the most this summer. Especially with the Olympics coming up. Who doesn’t love fencing? 😀 This was my most expensive program and it ate up a good chunk of my Summer Reading funds. But oh, boy, was it worth it. The teens had so much fun.

Our instructor was Charles Randall, the head coach of PDX fencing. The particular style of fencing he taught our teens was saber. Coach Randall started by introducing the teens to the history of the sport, as well as teaching them some french vocabulary. Then he lead them through some training exercises and taught them some basic attacks and parries.

The teens were absolutely enraptured and their survey reviews were glowing. Personally, I was really pleased that we had an even mix of both boys and girls at the program. Coach Randall was charming, funny, and engaging. The teens begged me to bring him back next year.

Total attendance: 15 teens.

Verdict: If we can afford it next year, we’ll be doing this one again.

Fitness Friday #5: Tai Chi


Like my Zen Gardening Class, this was another program I was a little worried about. Would  teens actually show up for a Tai Chi Class? Would it be relevant and interesting to them?

Apparently, so!

Our instructor, Corliss Marsh, first introduced the history of Tai Chi, talked about some of the differences between styles, and taught the teens a few key concepts (breath, balance, etc). Afterwards, she led them through a series of 16 postures in one of the Yang forms.


I think we have a real need for/interest in these calmer, more meditative programs in our community. Each one has been well attended and the teens have been inquisitive and receptive.

The one thing I’d change: next time, we’re going to need a bigger room. 🙂

Total attendance: 19 teens (and 3 parents)

Fitness Friday #4: Self-Defense

IMG_1771This program was such a success last year we decided to do it again. It was a perfect fit for our “On Your Mark, Get Set, Read” theme and our goal to keep our local teens active.

Local police officer, Mike Martin, owner of Best Defense Training, led the teens through a series of moves and maneuvers to help them stay safe in dangerous situations. You could visibly see the teens growing more confident and secure as the program progressed. Both the teens and their parents were really grateful that the library offered this program.


Things I loved:

  • Mike’s humor and his ability to present serious/potentially scary information in a non-threatening way
  • How much fun the tweens and teens had. On my surveys afterwards, the reviews were glowing.
  • The participants actually got to practice the moves (instead of just having them demonstrated)
  • We had a healthy mix of both boys and girls
  • The teens checked things out from my book display! They were so pumped about what they’d learned, all but one of my books and DVD’s on self-defense and/or survival skills was immediately checked out.
  • We had a waiting list 15 teens deep, along with numerous requests to do this program again so more teens can attend.

Things I’d do differently next time:

  • In the future, I’ll probably limit this program to 8th grade and up. The younger middle schoolers really had fun during the program, but were so goofy/chatty they made it hard for the older kids to enjoy it.

Total Attendance: 18 teens.

Verdict: FTW. We’ll try to bring this one back in the fall.



Fitness Friday #3: Zen Gardening

This was the program I was worried about – the one I was afraid no one would show for. Instead, we had a waiting list 10 teens deep. 🙂

As someone who struggles with stress, this program was near and dear to my heart. It’s important for all of us to learn healthy coping skills for when life gets tough. So I really treasured having the opportunity to use this program to talk about self-care with the teens.


I opened by having the teens sit in a circle on the floor and asked them what they thought the word “Zen” meant. They took turns guessing before we went over the exact definition: meditation. I explained that Zen Gardening literally means “meditation gardening,” and talked with them about using meditation as a stress management tool.

That’s when the fun stuff began.

I dimmed the lights, had the teens take a comfortable position, and played a free guided meditation created by UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center. I picked a short, five minute one, so as not to overwhelm them. Meditation can be intimidating for beginners, so I thought starting simple would be best.

And they did it! They actually sat there, breathed, and meditated! Afterwards, I asked a few teens to share how they were feeling and we moved to the tables to assemble their Zen Gardens.

I provided them with a small booklet on the different types of patterns typically found in Japanese Zen Gardens. Their Zen Garden Kits also came with a book of meditations and Japanese Proverbs. Some chose to use my pattern booklet. Others did their own thing. A few read from the meditation book while tracing patterns in their gardens. 🙂

The few were more squirrely than others (especially the middle schoolers), but they all seemed to really enjoy the program and, hopefully, learned something too!

Total attendance: 15 teens.

I’d say this one counts as a success. 🙂


Freaking Out: Real Life Stories About Anxiety by Polly Wells

Chill: Stress Reducing Techniques For a More Balanced, Peaceful You by Deborah Reber



Fitness Friday #2: Wii “Just Dance” Off

This was, quite possibly, the easiest program ever.wii2

Step 1: Set up the Wii and the TV

Step 2: Provide healthy snacks (grapes, carrots, etc)

Step 3: Let the kids have fun

The tweens and teens decided they weren’t really interested in having a competition, so we just let them hang out, dance, and have a good time. I also put out a few titles -both fiction and nonfiction – about dancing for them to check out.

Total attendance: 14 teens. Not bad, not bad. 🙂 Hooray for easy programming.


Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

Pointe by Brandy Colbert

And so many more.