Tag Archives: library uk

Links Round-Up: Two Months’ Worth of News, Activities, Conferences, Contests, and Giveaways

29 Mar

Regular posts resume on Monday, after a six week hiatus. In the meantime, catch up on some teen librarian news.

News and Relevant Reading

CILIP has revealed the full scale of the library cuts.

The Booked Up scheme has been withdrawn and replaced with a scheme that requires schools to pay.

The EDGE has taken over the March edition of Teen Librarian Monthly and provided the world with lovely gems like “Story Time for Teens,” “You Should Read This! It’s Great!: Be Wary of Telling Teens to Read,” and “Guardians of Innocence
How One Writer Feels About the Taboos of YA Fiction.”

Anne Harding makes some good points related to Ofsted’s “Moving English Forward” report and pleasure reading for secondary school pupils.

Activity Guides

April is Script Frenzy month, during which young people (and adults) can dedicate the month to writing 50 pages of a script. Click on the link above to find more information and teaching resources.

World Poetry Day (21 March) has passed, but the Guardian’s guide to teaching poetry has good ideas for any day of the year.

My Fake Wall and Fakebook allow you to design fictional Facebook pages “for study purposes.” So you could, for example, design a “Facebook” page for a fictional character, an author, a historical figure, et cetera. Check out the Fakebook pages of Hermes and Martin Luther. I can imagine a ton of fun uses for this, especially in a school library!

Conferences and Training

YLF Scotland Spring Conference running four sessions for working with teens: http://teenlibrarian.co.uk/2012/03/22/youth-libraries-group-scotland-spring-conference/ £35 +VAT, Friday April 27th. Be there!

Lighting the Future – the joint Youth Libraries Group, School Libraries Association and School Libraries Group conference – will take place in 8-10 June. There are some panels and workshops useful for those working with young people. For those who need assistance there are several bursaries available. See the Lighting the Future website and Youth Libraries Group regional pages for more information on financial assistance.

Anne Harding is offering a one day course for secondary school librarians on cost-effective methods of promoting reading and library use to pupils. The course will take place in Sutton on 17 May and cost £89/120 (early bird/standard).

Awards and Booklists

Winners of the Carnegie Award will be announced in June. For now you can have a look at the shortlist.

Several YA novels have been nominated for the LGBT Children’s/Young Adult category of the Lamba Award.

Bali Rai writes about his favourite YA novels.

Action Librarian has compiled a useful list of YA books with Muslim protagonists.

Contests for Teens

Young people ages 11-19 can enter the International Young Person’s Short Story Award from now until 24 July. The prize is £2500 plus publication! (Info via the wonderful Chicklish.)

Contests for Teen Librarians

Tell the Siobhan Dowd Trust how you spread a joy of reading in your school and win £1000 worth of books!

Win a Set of Eight Signed Novels from EDGE Authors! Contest ends 31 March.

And of course the YA Library UK Teen Book Giveaway is open until 2 April.

If you have a piece of news you think should be included in the Links Round-Up, email me at yalibraryuk@gmail.com or Tweet @yalibraryuk.


Giving Teen Genre Readers Time (or) Fighting Tyranny of Reading

4 Apr

Last week when I updated about the YALSA symposium session on Street Lit I forgot to mention one of the most crucial pieces of knowledge I gained from the session.

One of the presenters (I believe it was Beth Saxton but can’t be certain) mentioned that teens who begin reading Street Lit usually branch out from the genre after a time. How long? Usually about a year after they begin to devour street lit novels.

A year is such a brief period of time, especially if it is that period of time that reifies reading as a lifelong habit. On the other hand, it can be difficult to watch a reader who is clearly capable of reading more sophisticated work returning repeatedly to a genre or author they are already comfortable with. Some teens I work with read virtually nothing except the Twilight saga for an entire year. They would cycle through the saga, and then, as soon as they were finished, start the first book again! These teens also wanted to relive details of the books, not debate their underlying themes. The only teen in my reading group not taken with Twilight was a diehard horror fan who refused to read anything else. It was a trying time.

Since then, I have seen every member of the group blossom into readers with great curiosity and diverse interests. It seems that’s how many of us become readers – we experience a passion for a subject or genre of stories or even a certain book that is so consuming that we must read everything within that area, repeatedly, until we feel exhausted with it.

It’s easier to place a measurable value on this if the teen in question is a history buff instead of, say, a paranormal romance fanatic. The former is academic and might lead to an illustrious career whereas the comprehensive value of the latter is more rigorously questioned and debated[1]. Devising a critical theory of the value of the romance story is beyond the scope of the this blog. However, based on what Saxton and Honig said, it seems that readers of any genre will benefit from having access and encouragement to read in the area in which they are passionate. After a time, they are likely to become curious and branch out. As mentioned before, when teens say “I want a book just like it” doesn’t mean “I want a book with the same plot” but one that makes them feel as intensely as the book they just finished did.

It has taken me a long time to conquer my own bibliophilic impulses and learn that the best reader recommendation is one that fits the individual, not one that molds them to my idea of who a reader should be or what they consume (I have come to think of the process of forcing books upon poorly matched readers as The Tyranny of Reading). The keys to readers advisory are flexibility, knowledge, an open mind, and active listening.

[1] For those interested, Read React Review is an excellent blog on romance novels. Its author is a philosophy professor who both enjoys the romance genre and interrogates its ideology and general theories of desire.

“Meet Them Where They Are and Open the Door”: On Assumptions and Pop Culture Reads

31 Mar

Meet Them Where They Are and Open the Door: Urban Teens, Street Lit, and Reader’s Advisory was presented by Beth Saxton and Megan Honig at the YALSA Symposium 2010. Below is my summary of and speculation about relevance of the content to UK librarians.

Although as far as I’m aware, there is no street lit genre, many of the assumptions about the reading habits of young people are based on their appearance are the same in the UK as in the US. Assumption: “these kids don’t read” = “his jeans are baggy he must be illiterate” “these kids won’t sit quietly in the library with a book in their hands.”

There are two bottom lines: first that certain types of teens with certain appearances are born readers and others aren’t, and second, that certain types of books are more worthy than others. Scrutiny of these assumptions demonstrate their inaccuracy: the worth of various types of books is subject to constant and often contradictory debate, and there is a good reason for that oft-repeated aphorism “Appearances can be deceiving.”

Teens’ clothes do not effect or indicate their reading habits, but those habits are prescribed by certain important factors.

Parents have a huge impact on what – or perhaps more accurately whether – teens read. Whether parents encourage or discourage, value or disparage reading for pleasure, if will have a considerable impact on their teen.

Teachers have a significant on what young people choose to read. As Saxton stated, young people will ask for books at the level of reading they liked when they last had a teacher who made reading interesting/fun. Even if the books they remember fondly are below their reading level, they will ask for those books because of their positive associations with the material.

Of course, media also effects teen reading habits. Wired teens don’t ask for books until they’re in the media. Media makes certain books or films immensely popular, but only briefly (a month or two). Teens’ interest is held for a little while “as long as it’s on TV.”

So how to we react to books that are “on TV” or capture teens’ interest but strike us as “low” or inappropriate? Megan Honig answered some of these when she talked about Why Street Lit Matters.

Adult and street lit books deal with issues we wish teens weren’t dealing with: violence, sex, homelessness. Teens enjoy the books because they are fast paced, interesting, relevant/true to their experience (OR) takes them outside of their everyday lives, and are relevant to popular culture. Teens read Street Lit for many of the following reasons:

identity affirmation
reflection of lived experiences
engagement at a safe distance
wish fulfillment
risk-free thrill (“naughty” book)

Thus, although a book may not meet strict adult approval, if has the potential to hold great appeal for a teen. I have often heard librarians repeat both happiness that teens are able to find solace in books that reflect difficult or trying experiences they face and support for teens experiencing certain illegal or potentially harmful things within the safe pages of a book, rather than outside in the real world.

Library Gaming Special Edition of Teen Librarian

1 Mar

Happy March, everyone!

The wonderful Teen Librarian has put together a special issue on Library Gaming. This is actually Teen Librarian’s second issue on gaming in libraries. How cool!

The awesome thing about games is that they are designed… to be inherently fun and to challenge the mind.

The issue commences with Carl Cross’s summary of the Across the Board: Gaming in Libraries, Schools or Colleges conference. The next article (authored by yours truly) is about gaming for teen literacy in libraries. Those of you looking to boost interest in your events will be enthused by the third article, which offers sessions with popular computer game voice actor Nicki Rapp. If you’re looking for a different type of game-related event, Nikol Price gives instructions for hosting a successful afternoon-long game of Dungeons and Dragons, followed by an article by Shaun Kennedy about how to run a LARP at your library. There is an article about Games Workshop (war games) seminars for libraries. The newsletter concludes with a useful list of game novelisations and resources for those interested in gaming in libraries.

The newsletter also contains game-themed comic strips!

Gaming is a great activity for all libraries, irrespective of budget. I highly recommend that you click here and take a gander to find out more about bringing gaming to your library.

Staff vs. Teens: From Venting to Respect

24 Feb

The following was written by Sue Knesel, an American librarian working in Wyoming. Sue originally posted this message on the ya-yaac mailing list, and has graciously permitted me to reproduce her words here.

I started a teen area about 15 years ago now- coming from Children’s Services. We carved space next to the reference area. It quickly became apparent we hadn’t done our team building as the Reference staff was aghast with the noise level, traffic etc… to make a long story short we gathered all staff for an in-service, let them vent, apologized. An adolescent counselor to spoke about healthy teen development (that they travel in packs is healthy – worry about the loner we all love in the library), and where teens are developmentally.

Then we focused on the 40 Developmental Assets and had the whole staff work on recognizing the role that libraries and all staff play when dealing with teens.
We also had a strong message about these are our future patrons and we’d all like to have our jobs down the road. We handed them tools, such as 10 Hints for Working with Teens (Serving Young Adults, Patrick Jones). Part of the day was to write down five good/bad things the staff remembered from being a teen and would they like to be one again – no one wanted to go through that again. We now use an abbreviated version for new staff training. This couldn’t have happened if my administration didn’t buy in that all the staff serves all the patrons and it wasn’t just a youth services problem. We gave them role playing to help them learn to interact with teens and set boundaries that worked for the library, teens and staff. Part of the problem we discovered was the staff had no tools, no input and they were totally unprepared. I was dealing with staff threatening to quit, not mine but other departments’.

Another concern is even if we are nice and respectful towards the teens it only takes one staff person to put the teens off and that is what they remember and they talk about. I had a staff member identified by teens. Teens even figured out when that staff member worked and would not come to the library that night – straight from a parent who was concerned…(that was an issue that almost went to the Library Board).

So, all staff needs to be on the same page, just like I’m sure YA/Children staff serve adults with the same level of courtesy we serve youth. So it needs to go both ways. That was clearly said by my director to get all of the staff’s attention.

As far as rules – I like this quote “Rules Without Relationships = Rebellion”[1] – Our “rules” had input from teen volunteers and they approved them and that is on our signs.

I keep a binder of readings, information and thoughtful articles that I always want my staff to read and it really comes in handy when needing “fact” to educate administration. Below are some articles from my reading binder that might help with your staff.

Some of my resources:

YALSA Guidelines for Library Services to Teens
Somewhere to Walk and Someone to Walk With, Jami Jones VOYA Feb 2007
Teenagers Are Not Luggage: They Don’t Need Handling by Edward Sullivan, Public Libraries [USA] March/April 2001

[1] This was on a piece of paper that came from a long ago workshop and I can’t give credit – sorry.

On a Shoestring: Creating a Teen Offer without Staff or a Budget

23 Feb

This is the first post in YA Library UK’s On a Shoestring series. The series is designed to give advice to librarians struggling to develop teen library services amidst budget and staffing cuts.

Given the serious cuts and closures public and school libraries are currently facing, creating or improving your teen offer may seem nearly impossible. This can be hindering and highly discouraging. However, the situation is not impossible! Even if you have no staff hours or budget dedicated to teen services, there are some steps you can do to improve to improve the teen offer in your library.

Working in partnership with other organisations is a wonderful way of boosting your available programmes for teens. However, the suggestions below can be implemented without external assistance.

By improving your teen space, running passive programmes in your library, and working with other staff to devise a formal plan for teen services in your library or authority, you can invigorate teen services in your library.

Improving Teen Space in Your Library

Whether the library you work in is a sprawling central library or a cramped one-room branch, you can make the teen space awesome. If you work in a very small branch–or a mobile library–your entire teen area may be a shelf of books (hey, some spaces are just small!). If your have a shelf of books with, considering soliciting reviews of YA books, graphic novels and manga from teens who visit your branch regularly. Display the reviews by their respective books. The only cost there is for a piece of paper and a piece of tape. If you want to be especially fancy you could always laminate the review, or find a plastic wallet to display it in. Larger libraries can create entire review shelves or, if you have an area where you can put a book display, an entire review stand.

Alternately, ask teens who come into the library to help you think of themes for book displays (and ask them which books they think should be on it!).

Similarly, cork boards or an area of wall for posters can improve a teen area quite a lot. This space should be designated for information on teen events happening in the library and elsewhere in your community. It can also be used to advertise books, DVDs, graphic novels, manga and music of interest to teens. You can make short themed book recommendation lists and post them here. If film adaptations of YA books are being released, promote books and media that tie into the film (or relate to its theme). Make interesting posters of book lists and reviews to place in the teen area. Recruit talented teen artists and designers to help you.

Make a suggestion box for your teen area and put forms next to it. Bring teens’ attention to it whenever you have an opportunity, and encourage them to add their suggestions for the area (and the library).

Even small improvements to the area can make a large difference to teens who use it. Ask teens who use your library regularly what types of changes they’d like to see to the teen area. Teens in Essex Libraries have suggested that books in the YA section be divided by genre. Depending on the size of your YA collection, dividing the books may not take much staff time, but it can make a huge difference to readers.

Have passive programmes available in or near the teen area in your library.

Passive Programmes for Teens

Passive programmes are activities for teens that will help invigorate the library but put few demands on staff or budgets. While I don’t recommend comprising your entire offer of passive programmes, they can certainly help make the library more active, engaging, and teen-friendly. Here are some ideas to get you started:

+Keep board games behind the library’s counter. Teens can borrow these when they come into the library and return them when they leave. If you lack the funds for board games, you can make basic packs of cards available (again, behind the counter, to minimise the chance of cards getting lost), and display information about card games and tricks. If you lack a card budget, you can always make pens and paper available and display instructions for paper-based or homemade games (please comment or email yalibraryuk@gmail.com for details of these kinds of games). You can also encourage teens to bring their own games from home to play in the library, and provide a space for them to do so.

+Post a poster advertising a writing or drawing competition, and offer a prize. Teens can submit their work to a reference desk or counter. Post winners (and winning drawings or pieces of writing) in the teen area! (Unless you are offering library vouchers or ARCs as prizes, you will probably need a small budget to purchase a small prize.) I’ve even heard of librarians simply putting jars of candy on (staffed) desks, and having teens guess the amount of candy in the jar. The teen with the closest guess wins a small prize.

+Provide a cork board (usually £4-14) and review cards for an Add a Review board. The Add a Review board is quite similar to the displays mentioned above, except that any teen can submit a review to be posted on the board. This is a great way for teens to be acknowledged in the space. It also promotes literacy.

+Start a review, writing, or library blog to which teens can submit reviews, writing, or art.

+Start a Facebook page for teen library services in your authority. It will take some time to develop a following, but a virtual presence still helps promote library services to young people.

Setting Clear Goals

Creating a plan for teen library provision does not require a formal budget. Sit down with other staff and establish goals: how many teens do you intend to get into the building? What would it require to do achieve this goal? Do you need to raise or apply for money in order to implement aspects of the plan? What are staff fears and how can they be allayed in a manner respectful to both staff and teens? (There will be a post addressing the latter question tomorrow, and one about writing a detailed teen plan on Friday.)

Please note that the above is not an advocation for reducing staff or budgets. It is intended to help librarians working in less than ideal conditions. Hopefully these suggestions will assist you in creating a foundation on which a more robust teen programme can be built.

Look for Part 2 of the One a Shoestring series next week! If you have any passive programmes or staff/budget-free projects that you’ve done, please comment or contact me!

Further Teen Advisory Group DOs and DON’Ts

16 Feb

Last year I wrote about starting a Teen Advisory Group (TAG) in your library. Here is some further guidance to help you out.


+Provide snacks, drinks, and sweets. I highly recommend providing some form of protein-based snack, as it prevents blood sugar levels from dropping too severely.

+Have a reliable teen take notes. (If no one reliable is forthcoming, you may always take them yourself). The notes should include a list of who’s present at the meeting (pass around a clip board so teens can sign in and provide some form of contact details), whether previous minutes (if existent) are agreed to or need further discussion, and discussion topics for the day. It should also include actionable items below the discussion topics. For example, if teens want a bulletin board in the Teen Zone, so the actionable steps would be comparing bulletin boards, coming up with an estimated cost, and applying for funding from your library or raising the money. I or one of the teens usually type up the notes and then send to the group. The teens have also agreed to make the minutes accessible to staff (via our Intranet), which means that staff are aware of projects the TAG is working on.

+Give the group about 5-10 minutes to settle in and chat with you and each other. This allows anyone who’s late to straggle in and provides some social time for the group.

+Even a group of 10 young people can turn into a total rabble. If you’re having trouble keeping order or generating a coherent discussion, you can always divide them into smaller groups of 4-5 (or even groups of 2-3) and give them about five minutes to devise answers to the questions. If you’re having repeated problems keeping order in the group, find an amenable member of staff who can attend a few session to help establish some order.

+Provide a break. If the session is 60+ minutes long, a break in the middle that gives the teens (and you!) the opportunity to walk around, stretch, and be loud can really help to diffuse some tension. The first half of the meeting will generally be more focused than the second half, so try to get the important stuff in there first!

+Invite amenable members of library staff to parley with the teens. This can help shift both staff and teen perceptions of each other, and can help library staff to become more aware of teens’ perspective.

+Friendly managers may be willing to meet with the group to involve them in library processes. For example, a supervisor who buys DVDs for the library spent a TAG showing the group how he selected DVDs and getting their opinions on which ones to purchase. The group heavily influenced the DVD stock selection of that month!


+Don’t get discouraged if it seems as though the group didn’t achieve too much or often veered off topic. When you receive or type up the notes you’ll be surprised by exactly how much was agreed upon. The library isn’t school, and the group needn’t be 100% on-topic all the time in order to be effective.

+Don’t assume teenagers know how to take meeting minutes effectively! I have a notes template that I had out to note-takers at our meetings. It’s relatively simple but keeps note-takers on track. Please email me at yalibraryuk@gmail.com if you’d like a basic notes template for these meetings.

+Don’t let the group be too vague or let them take on too much at once. Many teenagers are still learning how to organise and prioritise. Guide them through the process by nudging them to choose one achievable project first. If they have their hearts set on a larger, longer-term project that will take more time to achieve fruition, encourage them to work on some shorter-term, achievable projects as well. That way they continue to see results of the group. Some longer projects (especially those that require money and/or vetting by management) can take months to come to fruition.

+Don’t go into a meeting without a board (or large pad of paper) to write on! Visual aids are a big help when brainstorming. Don’t forget markers/pens!

+Don’t dominate the meeting by talking at the group! Make meetings interactive. It is after all a teen advisory group, so young people should be doing a lot of the talking.

+Don’t make meetings too serious (unless the teens want them to be serious It’s okay to have fun, or even to plan period outings, parties, fun volunteer days, et cetera, as part of the group. Making it fun will inspire young people to come back.

+Don’t set unrealistic deadlines or obscure the difficulties of achieving certain projects. Be encouraging and positive, but realistic about obstacles. Teens are quite good at circumnavigating challenges to and problems with their project.

+Don’t become discouraged if the library budget precludes teenagers or your TAG. The accomplishments of a Teen Advisory Group can help to bolster your proposals to managers for allocation of money to teen programmes (in fact, the TAG may have input into any such proposal). In the meantime, the group has the option of raising money themselves by hosting book sales, bake sales, workshops and the like. Alternately, teen groups may apply for funding.