Tag Archives: youth programs

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The Booked Up scheme has been withdrawn and replaced with a scheme that requires schools to pay.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


Links Round-Up: New Blogs, Old Zombies, Training, and a Case Study for Read-A-Thon

1 Apr

Michael Gove wants schools to teach more classic literature. A number of YA authors signed a letter objecting to Michael Gove’s initiative to create of a list of 50 books that “all children should read.” The authors didn’t object to the idea of children reading but to the idea that certain books should be mandatory. What do you think?

Trainer Anne Harding has just begun a new blog, annehardingtraining.blogspot.com. She assures me that “there will of course be lots that relates to teenagers.” I’m not surprised, given that one of her most popular trainings is on library services for teenagers. Anne is running one of those teens-and-libraries trainings on 18 May (click for details) and a second one on 27 June.

Teen Librarian‘s How Do You Get Teenagers Interested in Sustainability? Answer: Zombies! is sure to amuse and inspire.

Green Bean Teen Queen has written a case study and instructions for running a very successful teen programme called The Teen Read-A-Thon. It sounds pretty fun!

On the YALSA blog Linda Braun ponders the recent limit set on loans of Harper Collins Overdrive books and its potential effects on teen readers and libraries.

Penultimately, and certainly not least, you can now watch a trailer for the new season of Doctor Who. It’s the talk of the town [country], I tell you.

Spicy Reads interviewed audiobook producer Tim Ditlow. Tim talks about the virtues of audiobooks (including whether they are “easier” than print books), some of his favourite YA audiobook titles, how to break into the audiobook industry, and which types of books make great audiobooks:

Links Round-Up: In-Reach, Teens on Programme Closures, YA Classification, and More

25 Feb

First, apologies to anyone who encountered a fragment of a post this morning! I had technical difficulties.

Now, on to the links round-up:

BBC News reports that more young people, ages 16-24, have been classed NEET. (NEET=”not in employment, education or training”.)

Gamine Expedition reports on a study about the reading habits of children and teens (though it was sponsored by the Association of Booksellers for Children, so, as she writes, consider the source!). The post includes this gem of a quote:

“Librarians affected 24% of YA reading decisions, bookstores not so much.”

CLASY discusses working with organisations to bring teens into the library, and doing in-reach (outreach within the four walls of the library).

This video of a young “volunteer from KICFM – 2 years unemployed and suffering health problems” who says, “What am I going to do when the radio station shuts down and when my counselling service shuts down… what am I going to do?”

Justin the Librarian attempts to divine the best labeling system for the YA section of the library.

Budding writers in Hackney (ages 13-19) can get involved with the Hackney Young Writers Collective.

Young writers also have a few days left to enter Figment’s Extraordinary Contest (deadline 1 March). Young readers who love to share their opinion about books may want to enter to Figment Review (deadline 11 March).

4YA recommends a variety of Anna and the French Kiss crafts and programmes. Very teen-friendly. Many of them are quite low-staff and low-budget, as well!

YA Librarian Tales tells us all about this time-consuming but inexpensive (and popular!) candy-making programme for teens (with photos from the actual event!).

Looking for more books for GLBT teens? The 2011 Rainbow Project list is now available!

GreenBeanTeenQueen recommends a few great YA audiobooks for beginners.

Last but certainly not least, a quote from East of Eden, by John Steinbeck:

“You’re growing up…Sometimes I think the world tests us more sharply then, and we turn inwards and watch ourselves with horror. But that’s not the worst. We think everybody is seeing into us. Then dirt is very dirty, and purity is shining white…it will be over. Wait only a little while and it will be over. That’s not much relief to you because you don’t believe it, but it’s the best I can do for you. Try to believe that things are neither so good nor so bad as they seem to you now.”

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.

The Portable Library: Teen Services to Take Away

11 Feb

We know that getting teenagers into the library, getting them readings, increases their quality of life. Now the question is, how do we get teenagers into the library? Or, more importantly, how do we get teenagers who don’t currently use the library to read for pleasure?

One of the many answers: we meet them where they are.

I have only recently realised the importance of delivering library services outside of our hallowed public building. This past week I visited a local youth centre and spoke to teens who use it regularly. The youth centre is beautifully equipped with a media center, a music production lab, art spaces, a garage for working on cars and bikes, a careers advice office, a volunteer outreach programme, gym and sport equipment, a cafe, and caring adults.

The one thing it was missing, however, was reading material. There was nothing to read: no books, no graphic novels, no manga. There weren’t even magazines.

It was clear that young people in the local area felt safe and comfortable in the youth centre, and enjoyed being able to access its excellent facilities. Why, I began to wonder, would they consider regularly going to the library when they already had a local space outfitted with interesting equipment, and where they were able to spend time with friends?

Thus, the idea of bringing library service to the youth centre, rather than making the youth leave their safe space and come to the library.

Portable or pop-up libraries are by no means a new concept. Book exchanges and library outreach programmes – to youth centres, sports clubs, juvenile detention facilities, workplaces and schools – have been going on for decades. However, with a couple of exceptions, few of the portable library projects target teens.

When I asked teens at the local youth whether they’d like to have reading material (or a portable library) available, the group got quiet. After a few moments, they began to nod, and then begin to give tentative comments and suggestions. In truth, they had never considered that the library could meet them where they were. For most of them, the library was a last resort, when the Internet, parents, friends, and at-home reference books failed them. It had never occurred to them that the library could not only maintain a presence in a space they already used, but might also supply reading materials they were interested in (such as magazines and hand-selected books and manga).

The value of this type of outreach is two-fold: first, it gets teenagers reading for pleasure. Second, it familiarises them with the library and puts a human face on library services. For the time being, they may not be interested in visiting the library. After some time, as they become familiar with members of library staff who visit the centre and work with us to access material they like, they may eventually begin to feel curious about the library, and comfortable visiting and exploring the other types of materials offered.

This type of partnership can be brokered not just with youth centres but with any place teenagers congregate, such as schools or clubs. The most important thing is to first establish contact and broker a respectful partnership with an adult in that organisation. Find out what the needs of that particular teen community are, both by exploring the currently available resources and by speaking to the teens there. For example, a secondary school that has a library may not be in need of additional reading materials, but might perhaps be interested in partnering to offer a lunchtime reading club. A sports club might appreciate a frequently changed selection of athletes’ biographies and sport magazines. Partnerships could be brokered with Jobcentres to allow teens out of school and looking for work to access collections about careers, further education, and varied material for pleasure reading.

Of course, librarian participation and visibility is also important. Introducing yourself to teens, asking their opinion and gauging their needs can put a friendly, human face on the local library service.

Getting teenagers reading is paramount. Once they are reading, and feel comfortable with the idea of library services, they are far more likely to venture into the building. Reading and learning start with small, simple steps. Meeting teenagers where they are and putting reading materials in their hands can make all the difference.

Introducing: YA Library UK’s new vlogs

4 Feb

Yes, that’s right, there are going to be a series of YA Library UK vlogs!

(For some reason the blog’s layout cuts off part of the video screen, so if you’d like to watch it without cropping click through and see the video on YouTube!)

The vlogs will provide information and advice for starting and improving teen library services, instructions and demonstrations of crafts and games, and information on library cuts. I forgot to mention in the video that I’m also hoping to showcase real life libraries that are doing fantastic work with teens (which should include actual footage of real librarians and excellent teen library spaces!).

If there’s anything you’d like to see a vlog about, notify me via Twitter (@yalibraruk) or email (yalibraryuk@gmail.com.