This program is quite easy for me to deliver live from afar. It is just as instructive and inspiring, but without the travel, it is also much cheaper.
Another perk for everyone reading this today, attendees and non-attendees, is that since we are dealing with teen services, I also promised to include a list of RA resources for helping teen readers.
You can find that below. Now let’s get the learning started.
Becky’s Favorite RA Resources for Teens
All of the following resources are ones I use to both educate myself on the biggest trends AND to identify books that are perfect for display, booklists, or to actively suggest to readers.
- Teen Services Underground: Their mission, "To support, promote, advocate, and build a community space to highlight the importance of Teen Services in minding the gap.” They have a strong focus on RA including this archive of RA Tools and Advice. Go here first. They are on top of trends and have very useful lists and links. The site is well organized and easy to navigate.
- SLJ’s Teen Librarian Toolbox: Their mission, "Teen Librarian Toolbox (TLT) is a professional development website for teen librarians, created by Karen Jensen and collecting the experience of four MLS librarians and over 50 collective years of library work. Our mission is to to help libraries serving teens (and anyone who cares about teens) and to foster a community of professional development and resource sharing by providing quality information, discussions, book reviews and more. We welcome guest posts and our book review policy can be found here. We are available for presentations, seminars, and consulting on a limited basis. Contact us for more information.” The inclusion of reviews by actual teens is a plus here.
- YALSA: You are probably a member, but do you take advantage of ALL of the wonderful book lists. I use them when I am stuck for a suggestion, especially the older lists. Teens love it when you can find a good read for them that they knew nothing about. And since kids age out of Teen Services so quickly, a list from only 3 years ago can be your secret weapon suggestion.
- NoveList Plus: You guys have a subscription. The Teen content is very helpful, not only to look up books, but also, the training materials that are specifically geared toward explaining genres and trends for a Teen audience. The ARRT YA Popular Fiction List is also available for free on NoveList. So use it!
- Keep track of Adult books that would work for teens. Crowd source your own lists to add to ones like the Alex Award or Booklist’s Editors Choice Adult Books for Young Adults. Compile these somewhere in the cloud [Goodreads, Tumblr, Blog] where you, your staff, the adult staff, and the teens can all easily access the titles. Linking them to the catalog record is also a great idea. This will allow teens to more easily help themselves in the adult fiction area, but also, it will make it easier for the adult staff when teens come a knocking.
- Of special interest- “How To Use Snapchat for Readers’ Advisory” from SLJ and Heather Booth’s Keynote on serving Teens from ARRTapolooza.
I also have a few Teen Service Pro-Tips to share:
- If you can, put all formats of books together in teen areas. The book, audiobook, graphic novel adaptation, and QR codes for downloadables all on the shelf together [where applicable]. A book to today’s teen is about the content NOT the format. Format is irrelevant. They don’t want to move throughout your building to 10 different place for the same “book."
- Put as many books on display as possible, but don’t spend a ton of time on signage. Simply put out a picture or a few words and then place some books nearby. Then, encourage the teens to add to the displays. They should be invited to pull books out of the collection that they think fit your current theme.
- As you are booktalking to teens in the stacks, DO NOT hand them the books you are trying to handsell. Grab a book off the shelf, provide a quick appeal based soundbite and then simply place the book down on any flat surface and walk on the the next title. Pull that one off the shelf and repeat. Do not worry about scattering books everywhere. Simply walk away after you have book talked a few and go back to what you were doing. There is a higher chance the teen will actually take at least one of these haphazardly scattered title home with this method. Later, you can go back and straighten up the books that are left behind. Although leaving them out might mean that kid who doesn’t talk to you will find a good book too. If it is out of place, someone will pick it up and give it a second look. Just embrace the chaos and put whatever unshelved titles are still out on a cart before you close for the night.
- Start a big buddy program where teens can help match younger kids with books. Teens providing RA to kids. They can do it in person or virtually, with reviews, lists, or annotations. Or simply ask them to create displays in the Youth Department. You will learn a lot more about their reading habits and what really appeals to them by having them think about their favorite books of just a few years ago. [This advice is very similar to the appeal exercise I have done with you today.] Pay attention to what they want younger kids to read and use that information to help identify books for the teens to read now.