Tag Archives: teen

Links Round-Up: Cuts and Youth, DIY Your Education, and More

27 Jan

National Libraries Day poster - 4 February 2012What will you be doing for National Libraries Day on February 4th? Here are some suggestions. Does anyone have plans to get local teens involved?

Update on cuts to youth services:

Children’s services bear the brunt of grant cuts, says a new research paper put out by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. (Thanks Anne Harding for the link – and co-authoring the research.)

Related: cost of illiteracy to UK ‘tops £81bn each year’.

DIY your brain:

Nerdfighters/vlogbrothers John and Hank Green have released Crash Course onto the world. Crash course provides introductions to world history and biology. If you’re not already familiar with him, John Green is also a very popular YA author, and the series will no doubt be popular with teens. Check out the introductory Crash Course video

Speaking of John Green: I Hacked John Green’s Wesbite introduces librarians to (positive) hacking and provides some free tools to use with teens.

Since we’re on the topic of hacking and computers, I recommend Codeyear, a free coding course. It’s offered via the (also free) Codecademy. Why should teens (or librarians) care? Read Douglas Rushkoff on how he’s learning to code – and why you should too. I also recommend Rushkoff’s book Program or be Programmed.

Book and writing competitions:

Secondary school students can enter the Read This! competition to win vouchers for themselves, and an amazing book voucher and author visit for their school! Deadline: 16 March 2012.

The Gentleman Press writing competition for ages 13-21 is open until 31 January 2012.

Young people can enter to become Amnesty International’s young human rights reporter of the year. Deadline: 20 February 2012.

Teen librarians/YA lit:

Poetry inspires YA novelists. This reminds me of a Sylvia Plath-themed session that went over surprisingly well with a group of older teens. I handed out various books of her poetry and The Bell Jar.

Don’t forget to read the January edition of Teen Librarian Monthly!

Young People and Media Use Symposium Follow-Up: Part Two

8 Feb

You can read Part One of the Young People and Media Use Symposium summary by clicking here.

Matthew Applegate, the first speaker of the afternoon, gave an excellent example of using unconventional methods to encourage creativity. In Applegate’s presentation, titled “Cultural perceptions, ownership and interaction with re-purposed musical instruments,” he described working with young people ages 8-12 in order to make music on converted Nintendo DS systems converted to function as basic instruments. The Nintendo DS did not intimidate young people in the same way a traditional instrument might, due to its familiar (and for some, beloved) form. Instead of inventing songs or learning to play notes, the interface was based on Guitar Hero. You couldn’t play a wrong note, you couldn’t only play a note at the wrong time. The music was also played in groups, which masked individual mistakes.

Although it might be a bit of a leap (and is something of a digression from my summary of the symposium), this made me think about the way that Role-Playing Games (RPGs) are a sneaky way of encouraging creativity. Characters are “guided” through the game (by the Game Master, who helps them navigate the world), but make their own individual decisions, or choose to explore unexpected aspects of the world (or take unexpected actions). Thus, gaming is both like having a story read out to and a group exercise in storytelling and invention. Just as using the Nintendo DS in a somewhat predictive format made young people feel that playing music could be “safe,” so gaming can encourage teens (and children and adults as well) to explore creativity in a format that’s comfortable.

It should be noted that Matthew Applegate was provided free Nintendo DS systems after sending some of his research on using them as music instruments to Nintendo.

The next presentation dealt with a different age group–university undergraduate and graduate students–and addressed their need for increased connectivity. Jo Morrison (a former member of Future Lab gave a presentation on the way that Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design used Ning to provide their students with additional resources and support. The frequent communication provided opportunities for busy students to communicate with practitioners in other areas (for example, fashion students and design students sharing different perspectives). While the sheer amount of work was too overwhelming for many undergraduates, the graduate students flourished. Perhaps a less intensive version of this could be used in public and secondary school libraries to allow young people to connect and share opinions on library services, reviews of books, and information about upcoming events.

The final presentation, titled “Global, national and local: Participatory culture in young people’s creative media production,” was presented by Reijo Kupianinen. Kupianinen studied media literacy practices in Finnish secondary school students ages 13-16. As in previous studies reported on during the symposium, Kupianinen found that students most frequently used TV, computers (particularly the Internet), and mobile phones. Mobile phone use was especially high, not least because it was used during school lessons.

Kupianinen examined the types of media teenagers publish on the Internet. Of those who publish some sort of content, about 50% upload photos (no surprise given the photo uploading capabilities of social networking sites), 20%* publish blogs or other writing/opinions, 25%* publish images of their artwork (drawings or paintings), 10% publish fanfiction, and somewhere between 15-20%* publish video. Although they did not note how many students took part in this, some also took place in text-based RPGs that they participated in by writing content.

Many students who made videos captured school on their vlogs, blurring the boundary between school (a private realm shared only by the students and staff who set foot on the premises), and the public realm (the Internet). This also suggests that even “public” areas like libraries can become public in ways that we don’t consider, i.e. broadcast to a much larger group than the constituency of the local area.

The day concluded with a rousing discussion. My main questions were on some of the things the studies avoided: what percentage of young people’s downloading or Internet time is devoted to accessing media (e.g. books, Wikipedia, videos)? How much piracy occurs and how that does inform young people’s media intake? What is likely to supplant current (and rather clunky) forms of social networking such as Facebook?

Overall, the symposium contained a great deal of information relevant to both to overall library services and to our understanding of how often, through what means, and with what type of perception young people are accessing media.

*The starred percentages are approximations, as I wasn’t able to transcribe the exact numbers mentioned.

You can read Part One of the Young People and Media Use Symposium summary by clicking here.

Links Roundup (Mockingjay, Book Trailers, 100 YA Books of 2010 and More)

26 Aug

I’ve been catching up with some of the brilliant YA and library-related posts this month, so read on.

Check out the #wish4ya hash tag on Twitter in order to find out what kind of support and programming UK library staffers want and need! (Yes, this IS shameless self-created hashtag promotion.)

Just in case you missed it, Mockingjay, the final installation in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy, was released a couple days ago. In honor of this event Forever Young Adult brings us the astounding Hunger Games Drinking Game and Skymall: The Hunger Games Edition. Seems like the former needs to be played in a group while everyone present takes turns reading from the book(s).

Persnickety Snark brings us their stellar list of the Top 100 YA Novels of 2010.

Neverending Page Turner tells us what makes a good book trailer–and links to some truly excellent trailers, including a stop-motion animation spot created for Linger by author Maggie Stiefvater herself.

CLASY weighs in on the Challenges of Being a New Youth Services Librarian.

Vampires Suck, a film parodying Twilight, has been released in the US. Unfortunately the UK release date is 15 October (at least according to IMDB). Regardless, this could provide fodder for monster-themed Halloween events.

Speaking of Twilight, the Quileute Nation and Seattle Art Museum have collaborated on a new show called “Behind the Scenes: The Real Story of Quileute Wolves.”

GreenBeanTeenQueen offers advice in So You Want To Be a Teen Librarian? (I know this post is a couple of months old, but I just found it via Youth Services Corner!)

The Booksmuggers’ reviews of Sisters Red turned into a HUGE debate on Rape Culture. This is exactly the kind of conversation teen librarians find themselves part of all the time–with teens, with parents, and with colleagues.

To conclude, I, the author of this blog, was recently interviewed by Youth Services Corner!

Compelling Competitions for Teens in Your Library

16 Aug

Competitions encourage young people’s creativity and boost library publicity. They also encourage creative output and support your local area’s cultural growth.

Although competitions require advanced planning, they can be run on a very small budget with only one or two members of staff, and create a high volume of unique publicity for your library service. Contests may also be affiliated with teen events, workshops, or clubs already meeting in the library.

Types of Competitions

Writing competitions link well with library aims of increasing literacy. Flash fiction may be an especially appealing option, as it is quick yet challenging to write and read.

Art competitions generally limit themselves to a specific type or purpose of art. For example, many libraries and run contests for young people to create new images or designs for the fronts of their library cards (the resultant cards are often quite popular with young people!). The winning design is printed on all new library cards for young people! (Many services have multiple winning designs and therefore multiple choices of spiffy library cards!) A similar contest could be run for designing library publicity and branding (posters, logos, et cetera).

Book trailer contests tie in with media workshops in which you teach teens basic video editing skills, and introduce video as yet another tool your library uses to promote its service.

Publicity and Garnering Submissions

Once you’ve decided on a type of contest to run, you’re going to need to promote the competition in order to garner a high volume of submissions. Publicize the contest within the library and send media releases to all of the usual outlets. Direct press releases to all local news sources, including newspapers, magazines, and blogs. Local secondary schools and colleges may make excellent allies: if you contact teachers well in advance, they may be willing not only to promote your competition but also to incorporate a relevant lesson into their curriculum. School and college librarians may also help advocate for your project. Working with Connexions, youth clubs, and other organisations for young people will also allow you to reach a large number of young people. (See Where To? Venues for Teen Outreach for more ideas.)


The two questions of judging are (1) who will judge? and (2) what sort of criteria will you use? The second question is partly dependent on the medium, the parameters set out in the initial call for submissions (i.e. genre or style suggested or required by contest guidelines), and the judges’ personal criteria (taste and preference).

Library staff may act as judges, but recruiting a known author or artist (especially someone who lives locally) to assist in the judging widens the scope of the contest and may expand publicity opportunities for all involved.

Awards and Prizes

The greatest prize for these contests is actually publicity of the work, be this in the form of publication, a film showing, a gallery show, et cetera. It’s also advisable to award a tangible prize that your library services provides or solicits from elsewhere. Local businesses are often willing to donate cash, gift tokens, or actual merchandise from their stores. If the contest is writing or art-based, why not see whether you can fund or get a donation of a place to an art or writing event or workshop for young people?

Publicity for Winners

As mentioned before, publicity is perhaps the greatest prize for many participants. It makes the winners of the contest feel valued and brings their creative work to a larger audience. The promise of widely publicizing winners is a strong incentive to submit work in the first place.

Work with local and/or national publications well ahead of time to create an opportunity for publication of winning works. You may want to organise a reading of written work and/or collaborate with nearby galleries to display the winning art of show winning videos. Again, this takes some preparation but can be accomplished by a single staff member and can garner the attention the competition (and your library!) deserve.

Links Round Up and Things to Come

6 Aug

In the next couple of weeks YA Library UK will feature posts about running teen competitions, sources of cultural information for young people, and booklists. We’ll even have a couple of guest bloggers (though their identities are currently a secret–they’ll swoop down suddenly like ultra-literate superheroes and add some excitement to the blog!).

In the meantime, take a look at a few interesting links from the last couple of weeks:


“How would you like to see Edward duke it out against Hermione? Or Katniss and Katsa? Well, guess what? You can, in the first ever YA Fantasy Showdown” (PJ Hoover, via @PetaFreestone).

Speaking of which, Book Battle Royale is taking place this year in Canadian Libraries (Teen RC)!


Manga Censorship in Sweden (Sekventiellt.se via @mattlibrarian)

Canada has a new organisation called CLASY dedicated to teen/YA library services. Check out CLASY’s blog for inspiration and innovative from Canadian librarians!

Giveaways and Swag

Over here in the UK, your library’s teen reading group has the opportunity to win a flip-cam: Reading Groups Competition: Win a Flip-Cam Courtesy of Booktrust (Teen Librarian).

In the US, Phyllis Peter suggests signing up for internationally available free samples of digital books and materials (including vampire paper dolls!) offered by Dover Publications (via the YA-YAAC mailing list).

Wonderful Workshops for Teens

3 Aug

Workshops may pique teens interest in a new subject or build on the momentum of groups/clubs or a special one-off event. Teens are often drawn to workshops because workshops teach desirable new skills in a focused but fun environment.

Workshops image

Although you may base a workshop around just about anything teachable skill, I’ve provided a handful of ideas to get you started, many of which overlap with previous suggestions for teen groups and events (so take a look at previous posts about clubs/groups and special events!). If you have any suggestions, contact me yalibraryuk@gmail.com (or tweet @yalibraryuk) and I’ll post your idea (and credit you for it, of course).

Art Workshops

Art workshops may focus on comics, manga, or fine art drawing. On-staff artists or art students from your local university may be eager to teach art courses. Professional artists are also happy to lead workshops for a fee. The best way to contact manga or comics artists is through publishers such as Self Made Hero (manga) or 2000 AD (comics). Publishers outside of the United Kingdom (such as Viz, Dark Horse, Top Shelf, and many others) usually publish at least a few UK-based artists/writers, so they are also worth contacting. Joe, the fellow who publishes Forbidden Planet’s blog, is friendly and often willing to share his wealth of information with anyone interested in hosting comics or manga events. (An aside: large publishers such as DC or Marvel may take quite a long time to respond to requests due to a high volume of queries, so if you’re interested in booking an artist through them it’s important to contact them well in advance of the workshop.)

Art workshops have been tested at Headspace Efford, where teens created a fantastic group-produced manga. Artist Nana Li gave two very popular drawing workshops at Southend Library, which one of the attendees took video of and blogged about (with permission, of course). London Underground Comics also gave a workshop about self-publishing comics at Southend Library. Again, the event was very popular.

Writing Workshops

Many teens–including teens for whom reading is anathema!–write. Some of them simply want to develop their skill or share their work with peers, while others dream of being published writers.

Writing is perhaps the most versatile of all workshops because it can be led either by a visiting author, a vetted volunteer, or an experienced member of staff. Moreover, the type of writing can vary widely: from poetry to autobiography, from short stories to novels. If a member of staff or volunteer is running a workshop, they may find suggestions in previous posts about library events.

If you would like an author to lead a workshop at your library, I recommend contacting publishers directly (they usually have a list of authors interested in engaging with library events). Alternately you may get in touch with The Reading Agency, which has many author contacts.

Crafts, Fashion, Costume and Cosplay Workshops

Crafts workshops may be based on almost any craft, from origami folding to zine publishing to jewellery-making. I will be posting a long list of craft websites later this week, but for now please take a look at Teen Librarian’s suggestions, See YA Around’s ideas, and craftzine.com’s archive of DIY craft instructions.

Fashion events encourage new teens to attend library events and may also serve as a crafty (no pun intended) method of encouraging young people to examine your collection of art and fashion books in greater detail. For more ideas, see YALSA’s blog post on fashion workshops and events for teens.

Costume-making or Cosplay workshops may also be led by staff or professionals, depending on staff knowledge, interest, and time. (Cosplay is dressing up and role-playing based on characters and from manga and anime.) Costumes may be tailored to time of year (for example, you could run a Halloween costume workshop). The best contact for Cosplay workshops are the professionals who run the Cosplay Ball. TokyoPop may also help you find someone interested in running a Cosplay workshop.

Outstanding One-Off Events for Teens

29 Jul

Special library events for young people are action-packed, helping raise your library’s profile, attract new young people to your service, and delight those teens who are already regular patrons. Here are some ideas for one-off events to try in your library:

Author Readings

Authors may either read at your library or at a local school with which the library has partnered. Authors who also offer workshops to go along with their presentations may be quite popular, as the added activity will draw teens unfamiliar with the author’s oeuvre.

While many authors charge, some consider readings and workshops part of their publicity campaign (hence, a free service), while others are willing to wave their fee so long as you book a certain number of young people in advance (often 50+ or 100+, depending on the author).


Most areas of the UK lack manga/anime and comics/graphic novel conventions. You can make a big difference in your community (and also, if applicable, some money for your library) by creating your own small conventions, events, or workshops. Both the comics workshop and Manga Day held at Southend Library were so successful as to be oversubscribed (staff had to turn away quite a few people on both occasions). TokyoPop periodically run free Recons, anime/manga events at which they supply staffing, prizes, food, episodes of anime, art supplies, and a Wii stocked with new games. For more ideas and information about libraries where similar conventions and activities have happened, see Teen Librarian Monthly (December 2008). (Alternately, how about an Anime Prom?)

Book or Film Launch Parties

Book or film launch parties can be relatively inexpensive. Plenty of US and UK libraries have held Twilight proms in celebration of impending Twilight films. Recent ideas for events based around the launch of the final novel in the Hunger Games trilogy recently appeared in the links roundup. The two concluding Harry Potter films are yet to come(click here for a plethora of Harry Potter party ideas via The Leaky Cauldron), and new superhero films and movies based on YA novels are released every few months.

Overnight Events

All-night events–which are popular with teens–regularly take place in many US libraries. US libraries often call them “lock-ins” (because the library is locked after hours). For just one example of a successful “lock in” event, check out Bacon Public Library’s photos from their 10th(!) Lock-In.

Teens have also suggested all-night film marathons (if you’re low on cash you can show some old-and-brilliant copyright-free films accessible via archive.org!).

Sessions often involve games, gaming, snacks, storytelling, and more. Teens will need to return signed permission slips ahead of time.

Calendar Events

Did you know that November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? Why not run a month’s worth of activities based around the goal of writing a novel (defined as being 50,000+ words) in a single month?

Other calendar events could include anything from football or other sport-related activities (based on the season), or holiday-related events such as Halloween. I’ve read some inspiring stories of innovative Halloween events on the YA-YAAC mailing list, including Thriller dance lessions (there are tons of Thriller tutorials available online), costume-making and costume parades, film showings, creepy crafts, ghoulish makeup application lessons, and more!


There are lots of clever and/or weird ideas out there such as teen poetry slams, the Create a Comic Project, and video game tournaments (or Dance Dance Revolution tournaments, or Guitar Hero tournaments… you get the idea). I’ve even come across detailed instructions for an event called Chocofest (an evening of activities based around chocolate, including facts, quizzes, and of course chocolate tasting sessions).

Have any special event ideas you’d like to add to this list? Email them to yalibraryuk@gmail.com or tweet them @yalibraryuk! As always, you will be fully credited for your ideas!


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