Thursday, July 10, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Totally Turned Up! - 2013 Summer Reading

A college themed Summer Reading Program?
Yes, yes I did.
It seemed rather far fetched, but once I started working on it, it didn't sound so crazy anymore.  Besides, we want teens to be excited about college and careers, right?  Right.

So for last year's Summer Reading program, I planned "Totally Turned Up - The University of Swag!", a college-themed experience.

We started out the summer with a pretty cool Orientation Day party!  The teen room's superhero decorations from the year before were taken down and replaced with these circles which made the room look like a student commons on a campus.  It was a stark change from the comic characters and gave just the right effect.

Kickoff included coke floats,  popcorn, balloons, and pom pons!  We also watched Pitch Perfect, one of the few "high-school friendly" college themed movies I could find. LOL

Each week of the summer was based on a different college major or concentration!

Guests included an actual crime scene investigator from the local police department for our School of Physical Sciences.  Local Hip-Hop Artists who all hold college degrees, came in to speak about pursuing your artistic passion as well as your education, which also had a great conversation about the artists on radio today who hold degrees but perpetuate ignorance in their music, which was amazing! And one of the last visits of the summer was a body image workshop for young ladies where I invited my actual sorority sisters to stop in.

The finale party was a Homecoming Dance that rivaled some real college homecoming parties I've attended. LOL

Here are the final participating slips!!  I'm hoping this year's will have even more!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

YA Review: All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin


I didn't dislike it.
But I'm not writhing in pain from it ending either.

In the year 2083, chocolate is the new contraband. As we all know, or should, if we've paid any attention to history at all, whatever is illegal, will soon open a door to black markets and organized crime families. For 16 year old Anya Ballenchine, that organized crime family just happens to be her family.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Once Upon A Time...I Went to ALA (part 1)

Once Upon A Time, I went to my first American Library Association Conference,

And discovered it was amazing.

This year's ALA Annual Conference was held in West Hades, or as it is commonly referred to, Las Vegas. For five days, I was exposed to my field's largest scale, in all of it's overwhelming glory.  While I was nervous and intimidated, I quickly found myself falling into that wonderful comfort that comes from knowing that you have found a place where you belong, and I'll tell you, this revelation was right on time.

For the past few months, I'd been feeling myself fall out of touch with my profession.  The ALA Direct newsletters were beginning to rot in my inbox, and my to-read pile is ridiculously and embarrassingly overflowing on my shelf at work.   So very much of my interactions with teens at work was becoming centered around programming that I can count on my hand the readers' advisory encounters.  In short, I wasn't feeling like a very good librarian.

With those feelings of inadequacy packed in my suitcase, and the stress that could only come with a summer reading program that runs like a bullet train, I made my way to Nevada.  I looked over my schedule repeatedly, hoping that I'd selected sessions that would speak to the areas where I felt I needed the most help.  A session on Teen Read Week, some clarity on teen programming and development, a couple of awards sessions.

I sat down to my first session, a pre-conference workshop on connecting with teens and young adults, however, and was mouth-drop surprised to instantly hear presenters saying that the things I was already doing, were not only right, but encouraged.  From that moment on, I knew that ALA was going to be the best decision I'd made in a long time.  I was totally right.

So here are some of the sessions I sat in on:
Connecting Youth: Key Findings from the Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums Projects
Opening General Session - Featuring: Jane McGonigal
The Michael L. Printz Program and Reception 
Ignite Saturday Session: A New Approach to Summer Reading - Play, Baby, Play 
Auditorium Speaker Series featuring Stan Lee
Teaching Teens How to Fail: Library Spaces and the Maker Movement
Teen Reading Lounge: Engaging Teens Through Interactive humanities Based Programming
The Future of Library Services for and with Teens
Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin
A New Vision for Teen Read Week
We F'ed Up, But We Fixed It: Thriving When Things Go Wrong
Deciding What’s Next for YALSA
YALSA's President's Program and Membership Meeting
Closing General Session featuring B.J. Novak

Now, there were a few others that I peeked into, or sat in on, but left them early due to them not really speaking to me, but I didn't include those here.  I'm so glad I read a few great blogs about how to attend your first ALA conference also before going, because they all said not to feel bad about leaving a session, and reworking your schedule.  Sometimes I can be far too nice, and stay in a professional relationship longer than necessary.  LOL  It was nice to get the reminder that hey, I(my library) paid for this, I should get ALL of what I want out of it!

Anyway, since I have to write all these things out for work anyway, I figured I'd recount my Vegas experience here, as a way to organize my thoughts, and also to share some of the great takeaways I gleaned. I hope they encourage you as much as they did me!  Be back in a bit!


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Agency 8336: The Conspiracy or Teen Summer Reading 2014!

Let's see,... intrigue, secrecy, affinity for technology, and a willingness to try just about anything.  Sounds like a teenager.

Agency 8336 is my brainchild for Summer Reading 2014!  A way to weave in very cool technology and activity, without boring the smack out of my teens.

I have much older teens, who use our library for more than reading and research.  They visit our space to interact with friends, find entertainment, and basically hang out.  They also visit the library of their own accord, without extensive parental guidance or interaction.  That said, my summer "reading" program has to be done a bit more fluid than the traditional programs.

Gaming Review: Watch Dogs

Aiden Pearce is a hacker.  He and his partner Damien decide to do a massive hack on the rich patrons of the Merlaut Hotel, a swanky spot owned by Lucky Quinn, notorious Chicago Mob Boss, and the premier destination for the elite and wealthy. During their electro-heist, the hackers become the hacked, and Aiden decides to bail before they get caught.  Unbeknownst to them, their little job did not go unnoticed, and a hit is put out on he and Damien.   

While traveling with his sister and her two young children to the neighboring town of Pawnee,  yes, Parks and Rec fans, Pawnee, the hitmen assigned to him, shoot out his tires, causing Aiden to spin out of control, causing an accident that kills his 6 year old niece, Lena.   

A year later, Aiden is still traveling down the revenge rabbit hole when he is found by Damien, who wants to blackmail him into finishing the Merlaut job.  This opens up the floodgates of Chicago corruption stories, with everything from human-trafficking, to political cover-ups, and even a little more blackmail.  All the while, you're allowed to hack into ctOS, the Central Operating System, owned by Blume (or Google if you want to call a spade a spade), which controls everything in the city from bank accounts to the bridges and steam pipes. 

Uh...I wanted to like this game sooo much more than I actually do. 
I don't hate it.  But it didn't quite fire on all cylinders the way its original E3 trailer did two years ago.  Let me explain. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Saw This and Thought of You: Library Advocacy Starts at Home!

So, while I was away at ALA, it seems one photo got a WHOLE lot of attention.   

This display, by the QBD Bookshop in Australia has over 13,000 likes and 48,000 shares on Facebook.  For a literary reference, that's huge. LOL   

Now, it isn't the first time I've ever seen the "I Like Big Books", homage to the classic rap song, but it is the first time I've seen someone take the time to do an entire verse.   
The viral photo is cute and funny, and apparently it made ALL of my friends think of me, the resident librarian, because I found myself tagged to it or shared with multiple times.   

Which made me feel great. 

Yes, there are a lot of great things about something literary getting this much attention, but even more than that, it said a lot to me about my choice to be a vocal advocate about my profession.   

In speaking to a coworker today, she said something that gave me pause.  On talking about celebrities endorsing and advocating for libraries, she said; 
"Yeah, but this starts with us.  It's OUR issue, and it wil change when WE take it on." 
This wasn't something necessarily super profound, but it was in fact worth some thought.  I mean, just yesterday, I'd been listening to librarians clamor over a startled BJ Novak in asking him to PLEASE be one of those celebs who does more than just asks librarians to push his books, but actual speaks out and for libraries.  At the time, it was humorous, thought-provoking (why DON'T more celebs advocate publicly for libraries), and hopeful. After the chat with my coworker though, I started to think more about it and realized that she was right.  We can have all the celebrity advocacy and attention we want, but without a clear vision and direction for advocacy from ourselves, even that help will fall apart fairly quickly.   

Having so many of my friends tag me to the "Big Books" photo on Facebook, made me think a lot about how much I talk about being a librarian.  Not as a gimmick, or a plea for people to "PLEASE come check us out", or even a lot of angry posts complaining about why libraries are failing.  I just talk about what I do, and how much I love it.  
Apparently, that works. 

"If you don't like what is being said, change the conversation" - Don Draper 

Librarians are in the most vital position to alter and change the conversation that people have about libraries.  (When they talk about us at all).  One of the first things BJ Novak said, in regards to being an advocate, was that he wasn't sure just what the library needs, and that he believes maybe people just don't know what the library is about.   

This is something that my followers and "Facebook Friends" can hopefully never be able to say.  I talk about my profession with as much pride, if not more, as some celebrities I follow on Twitter and Instagram talk about theirs.  I do not cower behind a faux-pology for boring everyone with my shh'ing stories, nor do I keep up the veil of mystery that was of librarians past, where people assumed we were these sheltered and stuffy people who were holding all the information to ourselves.    I try to be transparent and honest as much as possible.   

"I make this look good" - Agent J. 

I'm grateful to see that my friends and family are taking what I'm serving.  Keep the literary/library tags coming, friends!  It shows me that I've shown YOU, that my job is important, and vital, and fun, and interesting, and inclusive.   Having that reminder while I was among over 18,000 other librarians and information professionals, made my heart flutter.

And yes, in case you're wondering, I do like big books, and I cannot lie. 
My favorite big one being, "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" or "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows".