Friday, September 13, 2013

Unexpected Finds: Passive Reader's Advisory

I love doing displays. I love passive reader's advisory. Any sort of passive programming I can implement into my teen department is a positive thing for me -- being part-time and juggling my responsibilities for teen stuff with being on the reference desk is a challenge. Through passive stuff, it's possible to do a little more with a little less.

My former co-worker and I had an idea back last December to implement a little more passive reader's advisory into the teen department but with a lot of changes happening in the workplace, it was impossible to get it done right away. And then with summer reading club, it became even more challenging to implement.

But finally, ten months after the fact, I got the project done and I am thrilled with the results:

I'm going to talk a little bit more about this over on STACKED later this month (we're doing an entire week of reader's advisory posts) but the project was to make shelf talkers for YA books. 

We purchased these holders from Gaylord, and there are ten in a package. I think that was the perfect number for our collection size and layout. My co-worker and I had written our book descriptions out, and I had the chance finally to format them and print them out. 

I sent an email to the rest of the adult services department after I got the talkers up, and I didn't think a whole lot about the value those talkers would have to the staff. I'd mentioned that if they had read anything in the YA department and wanted to write a talker, to type up 3 or 4 sentences at most and shoot it my way so I could do the formatting, printing, and displaying. But I got a wealth of thank yous because it helps make their jobs a little easier too -- it's a starting point for those teens who want a good book to read but approach a staff member who might not be as familiar with the YA books. 

The element of surprise for YA readers to discover these while browsing is what maybe excites me the most.

My goal is to swap out the titles every other month or so. I'd like to do it monthly, but time and other projects might make it hard, unless I do get flooded with contributions from other staffers -- and I have a feeling I'll see some more contributions, too.  

Recently Displayed in the Teen Section

I've done a number of displays in the teen department over the last few months and failed to post them over here! I've been taking pictures and popping them onto my tumblr, but I figured for those of you who read this and don't want to head over there, I'd share here, too.

September Displays:

Sometimes, you don't even have to be creative to make a successful display. This one is just a display of recent new books. Yes, we have an entire new books section, but I figured pulling some out to display would get them even more exposure, in a different area of the teen department. And I was right -- this has required refilling numerous times. I love "having" to keep refill my displays because it means books are moving. The sign for it just says "Try A New Book" and it's an image of an old ferris wheel because why not?

On my other lower display cube, I put up boarding school books. It, too, has been wildly popular. I've had to refill it once and . . . at this point I'm kind of out of books to put on the display, so there are only 4 or 5 on it now.

September is Hispanic Heritage Month, and I wanted to honor that with what our collection had in terms of stories and authors which showcase or who are of Hispanic heritage. This one hasn't moved quite the same way as the other two displays, but stuff has definitely been checked out. More importantly, though, I think even when your displays aren't as successful, showcasing what your collection has is really important -- especially when it comes to showcasing multicultural titles. We do serve a sizable Hispanic population, as well.

Because banned books week is this month and our library is doing a series of "Big Read" events around it, I plan on switching one of the displays out to show off banned books (I think I'm going to frame it as intellectual freedom, as opposed to banned books, maybe).

August Displays:

The most popular books teens read this summer (according to summer reading club entries) were written by Ellen Hopkins. So to sate the interests of those readers, I did a read alike display, which was wildly successful. I think I'm going to end up making a post of some sort to put in the teen area to give read alikes to some of the really popular authors.

I did a display of short stories for August, as well. Though some of the books went out, it wasn't the most popular display I've done. I think that speaks to the popularity of short stories with teen readers, to be honest. Some love them, but most of our titles don't circulate very well.

This idea I took from another tumblr user, who developed a reading list for fans of Supernatural. I made it a display and it did very well. I think I might replicate this sort of display in October, but this time for fans waiting for The Walking Dead. Yep, it would be yet another zombie display (I think my third in a year?) but those books go like crazy, and I don't see why replicating popular displays is a bad thing, especially if you're changing up the how of your display -- in other words, not always simple "zombie books!" but in this case, it'd be a tie in to the show's return in mid-October. My kids are rabid about zombies, and I want to keep 'em happy. 

They are rabid enough that they even helped make a poster for our library card sign up month campaign, dressed as zombies

July Displays:

Like I said. I think in July I refilled this display almost every time I came to work -- and sometimes, there weren't any books to add to it.

I also did a display of books with either time travel or which took place in parallel worlds in July. This was a fun and a tough one -- but it got some books circulating that hadn't gone out in a long time.

Caramel Apples: A Teen Programming Success

image via

My first fall program -- caramel apple making -- was a mega hit this week, despite a few hiccups on the planning side of things. This program was very easy, inexpensive, and more than worthwhile. I had 25 teens show up for the one hour evening event. 

I picked up supplies the day before the event, except for the apples, which I picked up the morning of the event. They are as follows:

-- 2 bags of apples. I picked up red and green varieties, and there were roughly 20 in each of the bags. I bought smaller apples, as opposed to bigger ones. Because we don't do signups, I didn't know how many kids would show up. I figured in the worst case, the kids would each be able to have two or three. And even with 25 teens, there were enough for many of them to have two apples. The cost for the two bags was about $12. 

-- 3 or 4 tubs of caramel dip. They make pre-made dips in the fruit section, and I picked up four tubs. For 25 kids, I only needed three because I also decided to pick up one tub of chocolate dip and one tub of vanilla cream cheese dip. My thought was some kids will want to come and they don't like caramel. So, for all six tubs of dip, it was roughly $4 each, or $24. 

-- Popsicle sticks. I bought the bigger ones you get in the craft section, and they were roughly $2. 

-- M&Ms. They make mini M&Ms, and I ended up buying three bags, which was a little much. I didn't realize how many M&Ms came in the bags of minis, and I only ended up using one bag. That was about $3 for each (so my total cost was $9 or so, but for 25 kids, one bag was plenty). 

-- Sprinkles. We had leftovers from summer programming, so this was no cost to me. But for someone wanting to replicate, it'd be very inexpensive. 

Total cost for supplies: under $50.

We have napkins, forks, and plates in our programming room, so those might be extra costs. We also keep a supply of drinks, but I could see purchasing a couple of gallons of apple juice or apple cider, as well, and still keeping the cost low.

The set up for the program was simple. I wiped down each of the apples and de-stemmed them prior to the program. All of the apples were in good shape. 

We had two tables: the first had the apples, plates, napkins, drinks, and popsicle sticks. The second table had forks, the dips, and the toppings. While it would have been ideal to have spoons, we were out of them, so I improvised with forks. As the teens came in, they each helped themselves to an apple, put the stick through it (which was their favorite part, to the surprise of exactly no one), and then they had the choice of using a fork to spread the dips over the apples or putting the apple in the dip and turning it. Since they hadn't touched the apples beyond putting the stick through the center, there weren't germ concerns. 

After they put the dip on the apples, they could then top with sprinkles or M&Ms over their own plates. Some teens put the toppings right on their plates, as well as some extra dip, for when they got to the middle of the apple.

This was a little messy at cleanup -- the dip and toppings table especially -- but for 25 kids it was more than well-worth it. As the teens finished eating, they just hung out around the room with each other. Some played games, some of the girls had a blanket and just chilled with one another. For me, that's the definition of a successful program: your kids don't come only for the food. They come to socialize with one another, too. 

I'd debated bringing other topping choices for the event, but I am glad I stuck to what I did. It was more than enough, and, as I noted above, there were too many bags of M&Ms. I kept this event nut-free because I know allergies are always something to keep in mind. I didn't even want to touch it. 

Many kids ended up eating a second apple, and when the program ended, I had 2 full bags of mini M&Ms left, as well as one tub of caramel dip. Everything else was gone. 

Though the program went smoothly inside the room, there were some challenges outside the program that I think are going to change how I do things a little bit. Our security monitor came in to show me that a number of popsicle sticks had been found broken around the library (some of the teens were playing with them and I didn't realize they'd taken them out of the room). But the real downer was that he also found a caramel apple in the water fountain. As in, someone took it out of the room and put it there. Not cool.

So in response, I think I'm going to have to rethink my stance on in-and-out privileges to programs. There is a bathroom immediately across the hall from the room, so that's not a big deal. But once a teen leaves, I think it'll have to be the case that they're done with the program then. I don't like having to make rules like that, but I also don't like making work for other members of staff -- not to mention how disrespectful leaving program materials around the library is. I can write it off as teens being teens, but I also think it's my responsibility to make them learn how to be more responsible. 

That said, I highly recommend a program like this. My food events always draw the teens, and they are always thrilled to be involved with them. Is there anything better than teens asking when the next program is because they had so much fun?