Friday, December 20, 2013

2013 in review

This was a really interesting year in work for me. I'm part-time (by choice) and the bulk of my responsibility has been reference work, with a side of helping plan and run programs, as well as selecting teen fiction and non-fiction for the library.

With a retirement and with a co-worker leaving the library, things changed a lot. I worked the same amount of hours (around 12 or 15 a week), but I had a lot more responsibility. I was in charge of planning and running all of the teen programming -- which I do get help with from another person with my hours per week or so -- and I was put in charge of all ordering and selecting of teen materials. In short, I took on a full-time job with my very not full-time hours. And all of my work is done on our very busy reference desk. I don't get regular "off desk" time. Maybe I've had 10 or 15 hours off-desk this year.

It hasn't been an easy transition but I've tried to work with it. Now with the year wrapping up, I thought reflecting a bit on those changes was worthwhile.

Over the course of this year, I:

  • Wrote and developed a series of reader's advisory guides, as pictured above. Previously, there was no RA material specifically for the teen collection. Now there is. 
  • Increased our program offerings. Last year on my annual evaluation, the goal setting noted that I'd run one program a quarter for teens. Since May of this year, I've developed and ran at least three programs per month
  • Developed and ran the most successful teen program of my career, with over 40 teens. I also started a monthly club based on what my teens were begging me for, and the attendance for that has been great, as has the enthusiasm from those teens and from colleagues (I'll blog about it next month -- getting to that).
  • Wrote two mini-grants for teen collection development. 
  • Weeded all of the teen fiction and non-fiction. 
  • Reworked our audiobook shelving. Like most libraries, we shelved audiobooks separately from fiction and non-fiction, but because our audiobook collection isn't huge, I thought shelving them right along with the books would be beneficial. I haven't yet collected stats, since this change happened last month, but it's a change I'm really proud of and happy with. 
  • Expressed my dislike for those 50- to 100- page, library bound "non-fiction" works that cost way too much per unit and never circulate but which remain a dinosaur in a lot of libraries because they're "useful for teen research." In expressing that, I was given the okay that I don't have to buy them if I don't want. Seems small, but it's a big deal because it means the teen non-fiction collection can be a true browsing collection. Of course there are good books there for research and education but I don't feel the need to continue buying things I hate buying and that I don't think are worth buying for our collection.  
  • Created and displayed shelf talkers in the teen area to book talk titles passively to readers. I'm looking forward to swapping up which books are featured in the coming month. 
  • Saw engagement on our teen Facebook page. Not much -- but every little bit helps. The kids are getting a kick out of seeing their pictures used as our profile picture and they're enjoying seeing photos of themselves from events. 
  • Implemented passive programs and saw some of them actually be successful. 

Breaking it down and looking at it piece by piece makes me feel pretty good about 2014. It's less about adding more (because actually, I'm trying to shed some responsibilities) to increase numbers, but it's more about creating sustainable projects that go a little deeper/can be repeated and enjoyed. Some of my goals include:

  • Sustaining a teen book-to-film monthly program. We've already got the films picked out through the end of August. 
  • Building our monthly yu-gi-oh and game club. This is the one that teens asked for and have been so enthusiastic about. They bring their own cards and go to town. I give them a drink and a snack. I hope it continues to be popular and well-attended because it's such an easy program and it's one they love
  • Continuing to implement passive programming. I've been brainstorming monthly ideas and hope to do one or two a quarter, since monthly might be pushing it. 
  • See an increase in summer reading club participation. The programming was decently attended. But the program itself had such small numbers. I'm hoping because of more programming and more advertising and more getting-to-know the teens, we'll have more of them participating in the actual program. If I can hit 90 or 100 kids signed up with the club, I'd be over the moon. 
  • Engaging teens in a new quarterly book club. I'm so excited about trying this, and I am hopeful we get some participation. Teens who sign up get a free copy of the book and the discussion is held over a pizza dinner, so it seems like it should be a hit. Plus, we're talking great YA books. 
  • Weeding even more aggressively. I used a 2-to-3 year average to get started this year. I might go even harder and pull stuff that hasn't moved in a year and a half. We're tight on space. 

Of course, my other goal is to be a better blogger over here. I'd love to try to write up two posts a month talking programming and other library-related topics. I'd like to roundup great programming links, too. 

But part of me wonders if maybe what I want to say and share is better suited for tumblr, rather than a traditional blog. Or maybe crossposting is worthwhile. We shall see. 

December Teen Book Displays

Here's what I did for teen displays in December. I did two for the bulk of the month, and then I swapped one out this week because it was too good an opportunity not to.

When I Was a Teen...

I finished a huge weeding project in November, and after stumbling across so many memoirs for teens (often by those who were teens or just out of their teens themselves), I decided to pull them together into a display. 

Take A Trip

I think I mentioned that this winter has already been tough, and that inspired me to put together a display of books about road trips or set abroad. Wishful thinking, maybe. I was also inspired to pull it together since the weeding project reminded me of the SASS series, and I know it's one that would go out a lot more if it was more visible. 

Under the Mistletoe

I saw variations of this display popping up in my blog and tumblr reading, and I could not resist. I actually wish we had more kissing or near-kissing covers because I'd have really packed this display tight. 

December Passive Program for Teens: What's Your Favorite?

I'm a big believer in passive programming. But it's not always successful -- there are passive programs I've tried to absolutely no response from the teens. 

Then there are the passive programs which I've put together without much thought or planning and they've gone over very well. This is one of them.

I worked the weekend of Thanksgiving and it was quiet. I got thinking about how much I want to know what my teens like a little bit more, and I was thinking about how fun it would be if teens told each other what it is they like. Because it's been a rough winter here already, I thought encouraging thoughts of favorite and good things would be worthwhile. 

Enter: tell me your favorite. 

I grabbed a snowflake picture, pasted 4 to a sheet, and printed off a pile of them. I cut them into squares, then tossed them into a brochure holder, along with a bunch of small pencils. I did not write anything on the flakes at all. Instead, I made a sign that simply asked teens to write down their favorite things on a snowflake. It could be a movie, a television show, or a book, and it didn't need to be anything new. They didn't have to put their name or any identifying information. 

I used one of our display cubes which faces the seating area in the teen section to put the flakes and sign up, along with our raffle box for completed flakes to be put into. I printed out duplicate signs about the program and hung them around the teen area and stepped away. 

Every few days -- I only work 3 or so days a week -- I would check the box. The first week or so, there was nothing in there. I didn't get too worried though.

Then in the second week, my box of teen favorites exploded, and it hasn't stopped seeing flakes since. As I've gathered them up, I've cut them into circles and then taped them to the sides of the stacks. And I think by seeing those flakes on the stacks, teens not only feel like they're being heard and cared about, but they're encouraged to contribute, as well.

There are flakes on the ends of four of our shelves. After I took the photos, I noticed that there were a few more in the box to be hung, too.

One thing I worried about with the program is the thing you always have to worry about with a passive program and teenagers: would there be something inappropriate?

Of the 50 or so flakes I've had turned in, there was only one thing that couldn't be hung . . . and I almost hung it anyway to embarrass the teen who wrote "I like secks :)". Instead, I put it in my file folder at work to remember that teens will always make you laugh because of stuff like that. Since I'm the one collecting, reading, and hanging these guys up, it was no big deal at all. 

The program took about 15 to 20 minutes to pull together, and because it's been so well-received, I think I'll leave it up through the winter, even as I swap out the actual passive programs next month. In the summer, perhaps I'll do the same thing. The cost was a couple minutes of Google image searching, copying and pasting, some white paper and black ink (I didn't even print them in color), and time to cut and hang them up periodically. 

There are no incentives, no prizes, and no rewards for teens who do this. But the value is they see their voices being heard in the library and they get to see that this is really their space.