All on Display (part 1)

Here is a collection of displays we have done in the YA Department over the last couple of years. There was definitely a team effort involved as we put these up and found books that fit the theme of each display.



An audio book display. Eventually, we put great audio books on the table.


Here we highlighted new and young YA authors.


The idea was to do a large crossword puzzle–which is much harder than you think. But we also highlighted some of our favorite YA mysteries!


This was from a couple of years ago to celebrate PROM season. I asked staff to submit their prom photos for the display. We had a wide range of years to showcase. The balloons didn’t work out as well as I had hoped. I think next time I would use cardboard cutouts (with glitter!) and the streamers. The books all had to do with prom or school dances.


We were trying to push book bundles to get our non-fiction collection in the hands of teens (a very hard task). Some of them were popular, some were not. It was a trian and error display. The display on the window used old puzzle pieces.


To change things up midsummer one year, we did a camping, out door themed display. We used painted styrofoam pieces as the graham crackers and paper marshmallows.


This display was special because of the “dripping” blood handing from the acrylic stands. We used window clings to give the sense that the books were bleeding. And we snagged some caution tape from the maintenance department. (It actually served two purposes–in October we used it for a banned books display.)


This was by far one of the most successful displays we had done. We wrapped random YA books (in a variety of genres) and labelled with a personal ad of sorts (something that would entrigue teens and adults). They were barcoded on the label so no one could see what the actual book was until it was completely checked out. We even added some “pick up lines” to some of the books.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Teens

December 5 is National Ninja Day. Did you know that? Well, if you didn’t, now you do. Last December I wanted to celebrate this day with the teens, so we held a program called Teenage Mutant Ninja Teens. I invited a martial arts instructor to come and teach teens basic self-defense/karate/martial arts for the first 30 to 40 minutes. He went over his expectations which were very strict but very appropriate–things like calling replying with “Yes, Sir” and always standing at attention. Afterward, I set up several games for the teens to play to practice the art of being a ninja:

    • Patience: Make the tallest card tower in a ten minute period
    • Composure: Cotton Ball Relay; move cotton balls from one end of the table to a cup at the other end using chopsticks
    • Endurance: Hula Hoop Challenge
    • Posture: Book Balance; balance books on your head and walk from one end of the room to the other and back
    • Agility: 15-yard box tag; we marked off a square in the room and the teens had to be the first to tag the other person without stepping out of the box
    • Acuteness: bow and arrows; unfortunately, this one never happened. We tried several instructions on making bow and arrows from popsicle sticks and q-tips but they never really worked, so we eliminated this one.
    • Snack: Fortune Cookiesninja3

The teens who came to this program were the teens that regularly visited the teen department but not necessarily our programs. I remember it was raining very badly on this night so the group of 20 teens I was expecting never came–but they had would have had to walk a few blocks in the cold, dark, downpour. I had a mixture of boys and girls come and they both enjoyed it equally. The week prior I set up a display at the teen desk with a sign and YAninja-themed fiction and non-fiction. If nothing else, the teens talked about it and picked up the books to read at the tables in the departments.

I wanted to repeat this program this summer, but unfortunately, I planned it during the week of July 4th–I’m not sure why I did that. The martial arts instructor is unable to make it due to lack of staff at his own business, and since we haven’t had any sign-ups for the program, I’ve decided to make it a passive program instead. So as I was perusing Pinterest last week, I found a fun ninja-themed craft, and it was then that I decided to offer a make-it-take-it craft to teens who come in lieu of a live-action program.


Box of supplies needed for ninjas: pipe cleaners, pony beads, wooden beads, straws, instructions, Sharpies, and scissors.

A New Kind of Babysitters’ Club

indexIt has been quite a while since I had the chance to post anything new! Sorry for the delay!

Last week, I held a Babysitter’s Workshop for teens. It has been something I have wanted to do since I started almost two years ago. The idea was to help give teens (especially those living in the inner city, the population I serve most often) a basic foundation on caring for children as a summer job. As I researched and researched, it became clear that this program was going to be very expensive if I wanted to make sure participants were certified. To be certified, not only did they had to go through a babysitters’ training class, but they also needed certified in CPR and First Aid. The class would have been 6 hours long. It was more than I was prepared to offer.

I decided that I would run it as a workshop where teens could learn the most basic first aid tips, activities to do with children of different age groups, and ways to start their business. I had 10 signups and 5 teens actually come! And they came ready to learn with notebooks in hand.

The program was an hour and half long. We had a speaker from the American Red Cross talk about Emergency Preparedness in terms of tornadoes, power outages, poisonings, and other situations. While he spoke, I gave tips on remaining calm and talking to parents. Afterward, I gave the girls a quiz from the book Don’t Sit on the Baby by Hally Bondy on deciding if babysitting is right for them. It wasn’t really a serious quiz–just something to break the ice and lighten the mood. Then I gave them two different objects (things like cars, clothes pins, books, puppets, sponges, bowls, a bandana, etc) and asked them to come up with creative ways to use them with different age groups. The last thing we did was learn to change a diaper. I had my storytime buddy, Winslow T. Bear, available for the girls to practice changing his diaper.

They each received a tote bag and folder with notebook paper and tip sheets for babysitting. They also put together a couple games to take with them for their first babysitting job–cotton balls with straws and a yarn matching game.

Overall, it was a successful program. I had plenty of books on hand and some even checked out which is a win in my book! The books were about babysitting in general but I also had some available that were about games to play with babies and toddlers.

I’m currently looking at ways to improve this program, and one of those ways is to offer certificates upon completion.

Clue: Life-Sized Library Edition


Sorry for the lack of picture…I had already started tearing up the tape when I remembered I wanted to take a picture.

It was spring break for most of the schools in the area last week, so we thought we should plan something to keep the teens busy during the week. My co-worker had been researching life-sized games and found the game of Clue had been very popular over the years at several different libraries, so we decided to create our own version.

We are in a downtown/urban area, so we decided against the idea of murder in our version. There were some really creative ideas like book character Clue, who stole the cake Clue, and this standard Clue or this standard Clue. In the end, we decided to go with “Who Stole the DVD?” Clue.

My co-worker in crime created the playing cards. She chose six locations in our library, six methods of robbery, and six suspects with names like CeeDee Theef and John Ruh. We used clip-art for the cards and made them 8.5 x 11. Another crafty co-worker helped create a larger die to roll around the room out of a cardboard box. And I created the game board out of masking tape with the help of another co-worker. It was a real team effort!

To create the game board, I used a very small version of the original board. Knowing the attention span of the potential teens who would be playing this, I made the rooms only two to four squares apart from one another. One thing I would change would be to make more access doors in the rooms. I only had a short time to put the board together, so I left off secret passages (and, let’s be honest, the rooms were so close, it was a little unnecessary). We played to the original directions and I let the girls who attended play in teams.

What was originally intended to be a teen program turned out to a be family program. All week long, we had large numbers of teens hanging out in the teen department, but of course, when I went to see if anyone was interested, I found only a handful of teens and I just couldn’t get them off the computers–a common issue. I was, however, able to get the attention of a family of girls who seemed interested in playing. They had a good time, but since only one of them was a teen and the others were a little younger, it was harder for the younger ones to understand the game since neither of them had played before.

Have you ever done a life-sized game?

Designer Duct Tape

photo 2Over the last couple years, I have learned just how different working in an urban library can be. Not having truly grown up in this area, it was hard to know exactly what these teens would enjoy doing. In fact, it’s still hard to know. Last summer, we started a weekly, and then a bi-weekly, crafting program. Currently, we call it Monday Crafternoons. Simple crafts that don’t involve a lot of prep work, time, or material. (We have a separate art club that meets once a month for more involved projects.)

I love these crafting programs. It gives us a chance to get to know the teens because we usually get about five to six teens to participate. And it’s usually in spurts throughout the hour. The most we will have at one time might be two or three teens. You never know what you will hear from the teens–it’s when you go from library staff/crafter to social worker.

So this week, we did designer duct tape pens. I found the idea here.

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The teens had a lot of fun. Some of them really went to work methodically placing certain colors of tape in certain places. It only required fun, designer duct tape, inexpensive pens and various colored feathers. The teens figured out how to tear the tape into different widths and roll it around the pens. They needed a little help with the feathers, but most of them were proud of what they created…in their words: My pen is exclusive. And then of course, we had to add the feathers. Even the two boys who came added feathers!photo 1

Push Pin Poetry

Inspired by Pinterest, we set out to create an interactive Poetry display. In March, we will kick off our annual poetry contest. This is display one of three. Two and three will be going up soon, so stay tuned!!

photo 1

Celebrate poetry with “Push Pin Poetry.” We didn’t have a big magnetic sheet to hang and this board was in need of an updated display.

photo 2

We searched online for “word lists,” specifically magnetic poetry word lists. And since we are in an urban setting we tried to add more “urban” vocabulary–words we hear the teens say on a daily basis like ratchet, trifflin’, shorty, ballin’, etc.

photo 3

I made my own envelopes out of leftover scrapbook paper and a tutorial I found on Pinterest.

photo 4

photo 5

My poem. 🙂

Mardi Gras Celebration


Glitter makes everything better!

Teens. It’s so hard to keep them interested in something for more than three seconds that doesn’t involved Facebook or the computer. It is even harder to get them interested in something designed to educate them on a topic. And that is why I like to disguise “educational programs” in chocolate, games, and fun. 

To start, I gathered up the teens who usually just hang out with their friends in the department. As they walked in, they received a bead necklace for the “Forbidden Word” game. They could not say the words “Mardi Gras” or “friends.” If they were caught saying those words, they had to give up their necklace.

We made masks out of paper plates, scrapbooking scissors, beads, feathers, puffy paint, and markers. They came up with some pretty cool masks. While they were making their masks, I asked them trivia questions about Mardi Gras. I also provided books if they wanted to look up the answers. For every correct answer, they received a piece of candy. They were a little more competitive than I thought they would be!

After the mask-making and trivia, we played “Five Gold Coins in a Cup.” I found this game somewhere in the depths of the Internet and adapted it to my group. I cut out purple, green, and gold circles and taped one circle each to 10 Styrofoam cups. I arranged the cups in a triangle trying to mix up the colors as best I could. The purple cups were worth 5 points because there were four, the green cups were worth 10 points since there were three, and the gold cups were worth 15 points. (We made up the points as we went along.) I also needed to wait them down a bit because taping them down didn’t work. So the teens had five chances to toss ping pong balls into each cup. The one with the most points was the winner. Oddly, enough no one but myself was able to earn points; however, that didn’t stop them from trying at least five times each!

The next game was a scavenger hunt of six questions using the resources in the teen department. At each checkpoint, they earned a plastic “Mardi Gras” coin. The winner was the person who finished first, and he received ten pieces of candy. I was also surprised at how serious some of them took the game!

Finally, they had earned the piece de resistance! I couldn’t provide beignets, so instead I gave them vanilla flavored cupcakes to decorate and enjoy. I made the cupcakes a rainbow of purple, gold, and green to go with our theme. 

All in all, I had six teens attend, which is a average attendance for an after-school program. It was something I would do again. The most surprising thing was learning how many teens in our area do not know what Mardi Gras is. They saw the beads hanging from the desk, and banner hanging from the study room windows, but they didn’t know what it was all about. 

I *mustache* you to read this…


Photo credit:

Last year, I put together Marvelous Mustache Day for teens. This year, I put together Marvelous Mustache Day for children. At both events, we had a great time. 

Teens: To advertise, I placed giant posterboard cutouts of mustaches throughout the department.
Children:  I hung a couple giant mustaches on our desk and front table, and I put out books like MoostacheThe Lorax, a book about walruses, Mustache!, and a few others. The display went up a little late, but my plan was to also grab random books throughout the children’s department and place small, paper mustaches on them.  

Teens: I decorated the room with mustache/facial hair trivia and pictures. I also put celebrity photographs on the wall (but I only included their mustaches/facial hair). I included a few books, too (after all, we are a library). 
Children: We played the “I Mustache You a Trivia Question” game…a multiple choice game with imaginary points where each question was worth one million points. Trivia included the length of the longest mustache, pop culture references, photos from the “Identify the Mustache Game” (see below), and other historical mustache related information. Next time, I would make the game a little more hands-on. 

Teens: I had the teens try to identify the celebrity mustaches. I gave them a word bank and they had to figure out who belonged to which picture. I used Snoop Dogg, Santa, Swedish Chef, Cap N Crunch, Charlie Chaplin, Burt Reynolds, Gandalf and about 17 others. I tried to use a combination of fictional, historical, and current photos. I didn’t want to make it too easy, nor did I want to make it to hard. 
Children: After the trivia game, I gave the girls (yes, originally we had all girls come to this event about mustaches–and then I learned that not only are mustaches popular, so are dill pickles) instructions…they could move around to three different stations. Decorating mustache-shaped cookies, playing a mustache matching game, and decorating their very own paper mustache on a stick.  

Teens: When I did this with the teens, we went through the program in a more linear fashion. First we decorated mustaches using a fuzzy/furry fabric. Then we decorated cookies. 

Children and Teens: At the end of both programs, we played “Pin the Mustache on the _______.” For children, we had decorated the refrigerator in the room to look like a snowman, so we played Pin the Mustache on the snowman. For teens, there was a movie poster for Hoot in the room, so we played Pin the Mustache on the Owl.

I love doing this program, and I want to do it again in November and tie it in with No-Shave November. Have you done a mustache program? What did you do?