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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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! 

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The elevator door, which is undeniably awesome.

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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!

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Volunteering Vs. Service Learning

I just got back from the YALSA conference, which was held in Portland this year. My head is still swimming with ideas and information. But of all the sessions I attended this weekend, one in particular stood out to me: “Elevating Teen Volunteers to Loftier Roles.”

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My minions. *Cough*  I mean volunteers.

I’ve been struck lately by how boring traditional “volunteering” duties can be for teens. Yes, shelving books and DVD’s can be helpful (and necessary). But, if that’s all your volunteers are doing, that makes for a pretty uninspiring volunteer experience.

Enter the Seattle Public Library’s Service Learning Program. SPL wanted the same thing I do: to give their teens a meaningful role at their library. Their goal was to help their teens develop leadership and project management skills while working collaboratively together. So they decided to put their teenagers in charge of their programs.

Yes. You read that right. The teens were in charge of programming.

There were three key requirements for the programs the teens built:

  1. Projects had to be teen-driven (and they had to be exciting to the teens)
  2. Projects had to meet a community need
  3. Projects had to meet a library need

For example: Let’s say the teens wanted to start a Animanga Club. All three of the aforementioned requirements would have to be met in order for the program to take place.

It sounds so simple but is really is profound. I love this idea of making volunteering more meaningful by allowing teens to plan and implement their own Service Learning Projects. It gives them a chance to develop real-world skills they can use later on in life (marketing, event planning, working within a budget, etc.) It makes their voices and ideas hold weight and empowers them to take ownership of their library.

This is something I hope to implement in our volunteering program going forward. Our teen volunteers give so much to the library. I want to make sure that they’re “getting something” our of volunteering too.

 

Coming Up For Air

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So for those of you wondering why I fell off the face of the earth…I’m officially coming up for air. 🙂 It’s been an unexpectedly busy summer at my new library. Fun, but a whirlwind.

Our Youth Services Coordinator, for personal reasons, resigned in the middle of Summer Reading. Which meant instead of just managing tween and teen programs, I inherited all three of her weekly story times and her children’s programs to boot.

It was chaos. Glorious chaos. And somehow, I managed to survive. 🙂

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This is my “I survived Summer Reading” Dance

Thanks for your patience during this crazy adventure. I look forward to getting back to sharing my adventures with you!

An Update (AKA “Why I fell off the map”)

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In case you were wondering about my absence from cyberspace, I’ve got an exciting announcement to make: I’ve accepted a new position! I’ve been invited to be the full-time Teen Librarian at the Dalles-Wasco County Library in Oregon.

Yes. Oregon. I get to see mountains all day. 🙂

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I’ll be working to do what I did in Safety Harbor: rebuilding the teen program and helping it thrive. I’ll be posting again soon as the dust clears and things settle down. Thanks for your patience in the interim!

❤ – The Loudmouth

We Need Diverse Books: The YA Holiday Edition

IMG_2895I was one of those kids who got bullied/excluded when I was little, which means, as an adult, I have a minor obsession with making sure everyone feels included.

So I was determined this holiday season to incorporate not just Christmas books but Hanukkah and Kwanzaa titles into my book display.

Surely, I thought, there would be a bevy of titles I could incorporate. After all, we have an unholy amount of picture books on the subject. There just had to be titles for teens as well, right?

Wrong.

After countless hours of searching the Internet, pestering Facebook friends, authors, and so on, I realized that there’s next to nothing available for non-Christian teens during the holidays.

It was baffling. I mean, it’s 2014 for goodness’ sake. But after sifting through dozens of (admittedly lovely) holiday titles, I only found two non-Christmas titles for teens: one for Hanukkah and one for Kwanzaa. I ended up having to add two middle grade titles – The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming and Feast of Lights – to my display just to balance things out.

Now I get it. We all have cultural biases. But we need to work to overcome those biases so no one is left out. Teens, just like children, need to see themselves and their traditions represented in the books they read. And diversity in books isn’t just something for our little ones: our middle and high schoolers need it as well.

So to all my author friends: Gimme some YA Hanukkah and Kwanzaa books. Stat.

For everyone else, here are the two diverse YA holiday titles I ended up going with:

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My True Love Gave to Me: 12 Holiday Stories

A beautiful, well thought out, much-needed addition to the YA holiday marketplace. As the publisher states, “Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there’s something here for everyone.”

 

 

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Listen for the Fig Tree by Sharon Belle Mathis

An older yet moving YA novel about a blind sixteen year-old, Muffin Johnson, who struggles with an alcoholic mother. Muffin is trying to find light in her dark world and Kwanzaa plays a role in that quest.

 

Any diverse YA holiday titles I’ve missed? Help a librarian out. Post them in the comments section below. Thanks and Happy Chrismakwanzikkah!

My Year in Numbers (aka Teen Library Program Attendance)

MegStats2So excuse me while I geek out for a moment. I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I’m also ridiculously competitive. I can’t stand to lose. So my goal during my first year as a Teen Library Assistant was very, very simple:

I wanted to blast my predecessor’s teen program attendance record out of the water.

One habit I picked up from my time as a teacher is using data to drive your efforts. Otherwise, you end up stumbling around blindly as you attempt to reach your goals. So I sat down with my boyfriend who, very generously, helped me create an Excel spreadsheet. I used it to track my monthly progress and see how I was doing.

I wasn’t sure I’d make it. Some programs were more successful than others. But I’m pleased to announce that I improved teen attendance at our branch by an average of 96% this year! Ninety-six whopping percent! I am beyond ecstatic. 🙂 Guess that means I’m doing something right. Here’s to a successful year!

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ALA Booklist’s Response: Let’s Hear It For the Girls

Ten tweets and dozens of retweets later, looks like we got their attention. :)

Ten tweets and dozens of retweets later, looks like we got their attention. 🙂

I am delighted to report that, after the efforts of myself and several other bloggers/tweeters (Kate Messner, Caroline Carlson, et. al.), ALA as released an additional list of 2014 sports books with female protagonists.

It is a credit to ALA Booklist’s senior editor, Daniel Kraus, that such a timely and thoughtful response was swiftly generated. I only wish they’d thought to include “the girls” the first time around.

But everyone makes mistakes and ALA’s response is heartening. Here’s hoping this can be a tool for generating wider and deeper conversations about gender and identity in our culture. Thanks to everyone.

– ❤ The Loudmouth