You Are Now Entering the Teen Zone

As I walk by the Main Library Teen area on a typical weekday after school I am never sure what I might encounter. Did all the adults reading this blog just now picture out of control teens yelling, running around, and throwing things at each other?

It's possible that's happened somewhere before, but on most days I just see teens using the computers for homework, social media, games, and just hanging out with friends. A group of teens might be playing a game of checkers, while others are making use of the Wi-Fi, or coloring a Pokémon coloring sheet. There might be someone browsing for the latest volume of their favorite manga series like One Punch Man or trying to find a copy of Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children on the shelf since the movie will be released on September 30.

Sometimes it’s quiet and other times it is a little more animated. I might see familiar faces as I walk by and I'll ask them about their day. I say hello to the teens I’ve never met. This is my favorite time of day for a number of reasons. 

We talk about books.
According to a 2012 study by Pew Internet Younger Americans’ Reading and Library Habits,  83% of Americans between the ages of 16 and 29 read a book in the past year. Some 75% read a print book, 19% read an e-book, and 11% listened to an audiobook. Scholastic "Kids and Family Reading Report”  from 2014 found that 51% of those ages 6-17 are reading a book for fun. If you start the conversation, teens will tell you all about the books they are reading. I've had several books even recommended to me by teens recently including Everland by Wendy Spinale, which happens to be a Peter Pan retelling with a steampunk twist. The Peter Pan story never gets old to me and so it's one of the books on my winter reading list. 

We talk about the future.
According to Young Adult Library Services Assocation, Teens Need Libraries, a library can provide key services to teens such as workforce development and digital literacy. Again in the Pew Internet study, high schoolers were also most likely to have used the library for research purposes as 55% used the library for research in the past year, compared with 40% of all Americans. In the past few months I've helped a teen fill out a job application and shown them good ways to search for jobs. An 8th grader recently asked for information about several careers since they needed to start thinking about their future career and wanted more information. I was able to find information from our Careers Database and the Occupational Outlook Handbook, among other resources, and I've told several teens interested in video and music editing about our digital lab, Studio 304

We give them experiences. 
I've had several teen volunteers over the past few years. I am lucky to have an amazing group and even if it's just an hour a week after school this can help so much. This summer they helped us with children's programs and gaming, and they keep the shelves in the teen area organized and looking great. Volunteering teens learn how to work independently and follow instructions, and those basic skills like being on-time for their volunteer shifts will come in handy when they land their first job.

We have fun.
We offer programs to people of all ages including teens and have some exciting things coming up like gaming this Saturday, September 17 at Centre Township and Main Library, and don't forget board games at River Park. Also at the Main Library there is a Teen LEGO Challenge on Monday, September 19 at 5:00 p.m. to see who can build the largest standing tower that will hold a series of books. Don't forget about next month with After School Club at Centre Towhship on October 6 or the Evening of Awesome Teen Lock-In on Friday, October 14 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. At this special after-hours event we will celebrate one of Indiana's most famous authors, John Green, with games, trivia, giveaways, and did I mention pizza! YA Author Amy Tintera (Reboot, Rebel, and Ruined) will be visiting with an interview style presentation and will answer your questions with a book singing to follow!

With so many things to read, computers, and space to hang out or do homework, come get in the Teen Zone at Main or visit the teen space at your favorite library location to find out what's new for teens. 

Be Kind, Stop Bullying

I recently read that 22% of students ages 12-18 were bullied during the 2012-2013 school year. Students who are bullied also tend to have higher rates of depression and anxiety, not to mention a decreased academic achievement. Not cool. 

Growing up I saw my share of bullying and was even a few times bullied. My bus ride home sometimes felt like the worst thing ever. Over the past few months, bullying has  come up in general conversations I've had with teens at the library. They have had to deal with it personally or know others who have. 

As a community, we can work together to address and prevent bullying. October is National Bullying Prevention Month to encourageseveryone to take an active role to understand what bullying is and to prevent bullying, not only this month but throughout the entire year. It's up to all of us to take action, including teens. Think about what you can do in your school and in your community to be part of the solution. Give someone a compliment, create a short film that addresses the issue (hint, hint we are taking submissions for our Five Minute Film Festival), and most importantly find an adult you trust to talk to if you see bullying happen or experience it yourself.  

At the Main Library we have a display in our teen area this month featuring books that deal with this topic, both fictional and real accounts. Here are a  list of books and resources.

If you or someone you know is dealing with, has witnessed bullying, or needs help, here are some other resources that may help.  

Erase Meaness: A local organization whose mission states: We believe that every child deserves a life without meanness. While meanness may never  be totally eliminated, that doesn't mean we'll stop trying. They are hosting a free community screening of the documentary film RejectOctober 20. Check out their event page for more details. 

STOMP Out Bullying: A national anti-bullying and cyberbullying organization for kids and teens in the U.S

The Trevor Project: A national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24. Provides information from various government agencies on what bullying is, what cyberbullying is, who is at risk, and how you can prevent and respond to bullying. 

Youth Service Bureau of St. Joseph County​: Have you seen the yellow Safe Place signs around town? This is the organization runs the Safe Place. The YSB is a community-based, non-profit 501(c)3, committed to preserving and strengthening families and protecting children at. YSB  also provides emergency shelter, street level outreach, counseling and development services for primary and intermediate schools, and support and guidance for young mothers. Our goal is to provide a safety net to youth and families, helping them move from surviving to thriving. All of YSB services are free and confidential. 

 This summer, I asked for teens to write random notes of kindness for others and I got so many positive responses. This gives me high hopes that we can all be kind to each other! Keep being awesome everyone! 

Hot and New

One amazing perk of working in a library is finding out about upcoming  books and seeing the fresh, brand new books hit the shelves! It’s also a little daunting because you know that you can never read them all. Nonetheless, it’s something that I can still get pumped about. Speaking of “hot and new,” have you checked out our new catalog yet? If you are looking for something new to read, you’ll enjoy the new format. I’ve found it’s easier to search and narrow down my results of what I am looking for. Plus there are many great features like the ability to create lists. Check out our Staff Picks or you can even create your own themed lists to share with others or keep for your own information. 

Here are a few of the more recent titles that have recently hit the shelves, including a few nonfiction titles you might enjoy!

And without further distractions, here are a few new and upcoming Young Adult fiction releases to check out this spring. 

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brokenbrough (April 28)
Set in depression era Seattle two seventeen-year-olds, Henry, who is white, and Flora, who is African-American, become the unwitting pawns in a game played by two immortal figures, Love and Death, where they must choose each other at the end, or one of them will die. 

Lying Out Loud: A Companion to The DUFF by Kody Keplinger (April 28)
From the author of The DUFF , Sonny is staying at her friend Amy’s house after she got kicked out of her own house by her mother. She uses lies to try to control her out-of-control life, but when she begins talking online to a boy who has a crush on Amy, she finds herself caught up in one lie to many. If you like contemporary romances from authors like Sarah Dessen, Rachel Vail or Susane Colasanti, give this a try. 

The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey (April 28)
Recommened for fans of Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones, Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone, and viewers of Game of Thrones, The Girl at Midnight is the story of a modern girl caught in an ancient war.

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley (April 28)
Aza Ray Boyle’s life has been defined by a unique lung disease and her evolving friendship with Jason, but just before her sixteenth birthday, she is swept up into the sky-bound world of Magonia and discovers her true identity. If you enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars but want some fantasy added to the mix, try this out. 

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (April 28) 
Laia is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire, a Rome-like world. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution

The Heir by Kiera Cass (May 5)
Fans of The Selection series rejoice, the wait for book 4 almost over! When the time comes for Princess Eadlyn to hold a Selection of her own, she does not expect a fairy-tale love story like her parents, but the princess discovers her own happily ever after may not be as impossible as she thought.

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen (May 5) 
Sydney’s charismatic older brother, Peyton, has always been the center of attention in the family but when he is sent to jail, Sydney struggles to find her place at home and the world until she meets the Chathams, including gentle, protective Mac, who makes her feel seen for the first time.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah Maas (May 5)
The start of a new series by the author of Throne of Glass. In this action packed work of fantasy, the human world is in peril. Feyre, a semi-literate girl, hunts for her family’s survival. After she kills an enormous wolf, a fierce fey shows up at her doorstep seeking retribution. Feyre is led to beautiful eternal springs, but the journey is not without danger.

The Hunted by Matt De La Peña (May 12)
This book starts where the The Living left off. After surviving the earthquake and tsunami, Shy manages to make it back to land but he is far from safe because a secret his cruise ship co-worker, Addie, shared with him is one that people have killed for, and now that Shy knows, he has become a moving target.

Maximum Ride Forever by James Patterson (May 18)
Are you excited for the ninth and final book in this fast paced, post-apocalyptic series? Maximum Ride and her broken flock roam a postapocalyptic world, searching for answers to what happened to their world. 

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han (May 26)
In this sequel to All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter. She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever. When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. 

The Cage by Megan Shepherd (May 26)
A new sci-fi series from the author of The Madman’s Daughter in which a teenager named Cora wakes up in a cage on an alien planet where she meets the Kindred, her mysterious alien captors, and along with other teenager abductees must find a way to escape back to Earth.

If these books aren’t what you are looking for, we have more new books waiting for you to pick one off the shelf or download from home. What are you looking forward to reading?

Library 24/7

It’s 7:58 p.m. on a Monday and you finally decide to look at the research assignment you were assigned a week ago, when suddenly you realize your works cited page (in MLA format) is due tomorrow. You need to find some sources for your assignment. No worries, you think, you will just visit the library and find a few books, but after checking the hours of the Main Library,  you find they close in 2 minutes. At this point you might have started to panic, but do not hit the panic button quite yet. 

That's when you notice a magical word, Research, near the top of the SJCPL website. Under that heading, you find a link to databases and articles.  Databases are searchable and provide information from published works like journals, magazines and newspapers. The information contained in these resources is from experts and has been checked for accuracy, so you won't have to try to sift through one million websites that a search engine found for you to find a good source of information. Even when our phyical locations are closed, the library website is open 24/7; think of it like Nick’s Patio without the coffee and pancakes. Yum, pancakes. I'm easily distracted by things like pancakes and doughnuts, but  I have more to tell you. 

Recently, I’ve had a few homeowork related questions and  the opportunity to talk to a few groups about some of SJCPL's electronic resources however, I wished I could get the word out to so many others. I thought a blog post was necessary. These resources are accessible just by typing in your library card number and last name from home and they are free! If you are working on a homework assignment, you might be particularly interested in the resources under the Student and Teacher Resource Center.  Here are some examples of how you might use some of these resources:

  • If you are working on a report for Black History Month and need information about the first African-American female pilot, Bessie Coleman, check out Biography In Context.  You can search by the name of the person and find information from encyclopedias, journal articles, and newspapers. The resource is updated regularly and contains many notable people including historical figures, scientists, and entertainers. This resource also includes a citation tool with each article, to help you with that works cited page.
  • Maybe you need to gather information for a classroom debate arguing against recycling; try Opposing Viewpoints in Context. This database offers pro and con viewpoints on many hot social topics. It works a lot like Biography in context, in that it offers citation tools and allows you to e-mail articles to yourself.
  • Need science experiment about electricity for the upcoming Science Fair? Look no further than Science in Context. This database lets you search for science related topics like electricty, but narrow your search down by experiments and yes it also includes citation tools.
  • The Gale Virtual Reference Library contains ebooks, encyclopedias, and reference material, those huge, heavy books you can't check out on the 1st floor at Main. You can search a variety of topics or narrow your search to a particular reference book. 

Besides the databases there are other things you have access to through the library website. If you need to log some reading time and need a book fast, check out the teen e-book and audiobooks you can download to read on your own device or read in a computer browser. Need music to study to? Try Hoopla and download popular music albums.

Of course if you have questions about any of these resources you are always welcome to visit us in-person and ask a librarian how you can get started using these resources. Until next time, good luck on those assignments. 


Bring My Creativity Back

The struggle to find the perfect writing tool. Getting up to get a drink of water for the fifth time in an hour. Deciding now is the perfect time to reorganize my files. Staring at a blank piece of paper or computer screen. This folks, is writers block and I admit for the past few week I’ve been struggling with writing, which is inconceivable, because I’ve always loved to write. As a kid, I'd spend hours penning silly stories by myself and with my best friend. How can I get my creativity back?  

It is frustrating not knowing where to begin, but creative blocks happen to the best of us. I’ve watched my husband put down his guitar after trying to figure out the direction to take a riff that he's been holding onto. Painters, musicians, actors, photographers, chefs, scientists, and students working on writing assignments for school, do you feel me? Regardless, I refuse to be defeated by this so-called writer's block and decided to explore different ways to get inspired.

I first did something that you might suspect a librarian would do, I explored some books: 

Dream writing assignments : 600+ prompts for creative writing by David E. LeCount: You can't run a marathon without practice and I suspect the same is true for writing. This titles gives writing prompts and exercises to work through. Who knows, one random writing prompt could lead to your next big idea.

Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon: This book covers 10 principles to boost creativity. One thing Kleon says that really resonated with me was "Always be reading. Go to the library. There's magic in being surrounded by books. Get lost in the stacks. Read bibliographies. It's not the book you start with, it's the book that book leads you to."

Imagine : how creativity works / Jonah Lehrer: Even though much controversy surrounds this book (the author admitted to plagarism and resigned from his job at The New Yorker), there were still interesting elements of this book. I like how it pointed out that frustration or being stuck, is an essential part of the creative process that we tend to forget. We tend to forget that the journey to our brilliant ideas is not always an easy process.

Of course there are other things I'll try:

1. Take a walk: Walk around town. Walk in the woods. I love walking because I notice the small details I never see through the window of a car.  
2. Reread a favorite book or part of it: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith and On The Road by Jack Keroauc are my go to books when I'm not feeling  inspired to write  
3. Watch a movie that has made a significant impact on your life: Amelie is a fantastic French film, that is full of beautiful visuals and the main character has an amazing imagination. It is my favorite and I cannot watch this film without being inspired in some form. 
4. Create a playlist of songs: I used Spotify to put together and playlist of my favorite songs that I can listen to while writing. 
5. Write with a another person: In the past I've alternated paragraphs of a story, through e-mail, with a childhood friend. It's also a good way to get honest feedback on your writing too. 
6. Draw pictures: You can doodle or sketch, but have you tried Zentangle? It's an easy, meditative art form, and a fun way to create beautiful patterns. The Centre Township Branch will be offering an intro for students in October. I hope to try this myself, as a way to relax and declutter my head. 
7. Travel or change your place: Go somewhere different, even if it's just a short trip to the a beach in Michigan. Hang out in a different coffee shop. A change of scenary is refreshing. 
8. Keep writing, no matter what:  Sometimes I write and it's really bad, but I know if I stop I won't have anything. Teens will have opportunities to explore writing with an upcoming Teens Write! program at the River Park Branch and young adult author Mike Mullin will present "How Is Taekwondo Like Writing? " (open to the public) at Open Book on October 18. Come get inspired to write! 

I know my lack of creativity is only temporary, but feel free to pass some onto me. How do you keep your creative juices flowing?

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