Welcome to Library Lions interviews. Raising a Roar for Libraries

Welcome to Library Lions interviews. Raising a Roar for Libraries

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Anna Ruhs, Starkville Public Library, MS

Welcome to Library Lions interviews Raising a Roar for Libraries and for the outstanding Librarians serving Children and Young Adults in Schools and Public Libraries across the U.S. Please Roar today’s guest Anna Ruhs YA Librarian at the Starkville Public Library in Mississippi.

In just 3 years Anna has raised the circulation from 50 YA books a month to currently over 600 YA books a month! How did she do it? "By moving and expanding the collection to a more inviting part of the library created a teen hang-out spot that our city didn’t really have."

Anna used a few Wild incentives. “All of my teens think I’m crazy. Last year, as a reading incentive, I told my teens that if they read a huge number of books, I would let them cut my hair off! About twenty teens read over six hundred books in two months, and they celebrated by buzzing off my hair at our end of the summer party.

After my hair was buzzed off last summer: Teen said: “You look so very goth. But without the goth.” Me: “You mean my short hair?” Teen: “Yeah, except you're not wearing black and you're happy.”

The Skinny:
What I love most about my work is what I wanted as a teen—I am able to find books that teens actually want to read and provide a place that is specifically for them. Helping a teen find a book and a niche is incredibly rewarding, especially when he or she goes from “I don’t like books” to “Do you have any new books? I’ve read all of these!”

Library Laughs:
We all have to work double duty at the library, so one day while I was working at the circulation desk, an older gentleman came in and asked for a book of poetry. When I asked him what kind of poetry he wanted, he laughed and asked me how many kinds there were. Then he asked for “chicken poetry.” I thought that was strange, but I actually started looking for “chicken poetry” when I realized that he meant poultry. I’m pretty sure he thought I was insane!

More Laughs:
~Teen: "Tubular is like awesome, but like in surfer talk."

~Teen: "I really need to wear glasses, but I don't because I don't want to. That's why I'm such a good actress."

~While playing a game during book club: Teen: “I don't get it. Why would we look for the ghost if we don't want it to get us?” Me: “It's just a game.” Teen: “But it isn't true to life.”

A Lion’s Pride of Programs:
We keep our library busy with both children and youth programs all year round. I have two regular teen book clubs that meet year round. One is a “classics” book club (we use the term “classics” pretty loosely), and one is a sci-fi/fantasy book club. The teens pick what we read, and we meet every week for discussion and fun! Our summers are jam-packed with two teen book clubs, two library events, and a books-to-movies club every week. I usually collapse after July is over!

One of my most popular summer programs is my annual Henna Tattoo Program with a talented local artist named Lisa Rickels.

I also partnered with our local Barnes & Noble for a Mad Hatter Tea Party program, during which the teens made hats and tasted different types of tea.

During a Surf ‘n’ Spray(paint) art program, teens designed surfboards, experimented with spray paint and water, and popped water balloons full of paint on a large piece of drywall.

Reaching Readers:
I do my best to find out what teens want to read instead of pushing something on them. I’m honest about the books I’ve read. Teens take my opinions more seriously when I’m not trying to tell them that I love every single book in the library!

I also communicate with students at the schools in the area, use library facebook profile, and a library twitter. Facebook is the most effective because of the level of interaction it allows, and teens can get their friends to come to library programs by showing them pictures and events on my facebook profile.

Readers Roar: What are your Teen Readers saying?

~“Before I started going to book clubs I was super shy. Getting into the library and meeting some of the people I now call friends really helped.” --Becca, Grade 11

~“Books are my escape from this world. Without them, I would lose my mind. I have to read a little every day or else I feel like I’m trapped by reality and I can’t be creative.” --Sarah, Grade 12

Book Brag: What three books are hot this year? Why?

~The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Teens really connect with this book. The characters are believable, and the plot keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Guys and girls find Katniss’s dilemma appealing, and they often have very serious discussions about which of the male characters she should choose. The third installment in the series comes out at the end of the summer, and it’s probably one of our most requested books right now.

Teen Review:“The Hunger Games is a chilling dystopic novel with a subtle basis in Greek mythology. Katniss is a not-quite-ordinary girl living under the reign of the All-Powerful President Snow. When Katniss is selected for the Hunger Games, she determines to be not just your ordinary girl.”--Magdalen, Grade 7

~The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer. Vlad Tod is a funny and engaging character. It’s a great series for many of my teen, who are often looking for vampire books that aren’t primarily romance stories.

~Bleach by Tite Kubo. In general, manga is doing really well in our library right now because we recently received a large grant to purchase a lot of new titles. Bleach is probably the most popular of the manga series we currently have in circulation.

Library Lion’s Roar:
Libraries are incredible places! Through my library, teens who might never have socialized together (or with anyone) have found a place and a group of friends. Getting teens to read books they love now keeps them reading later; I have “graduates” of my YA programs who still come by to visit and talk about books and life! I think librarians are an incredible group of individuals who love books and people, and find a great deal of joy in bringing the two together.

~ ~ ~
Thank you, Anna for your terrific interview!

Reader's Contest:
Win a new paperback copy of Stealing Death.

Make a comment -- Roar about your library and tell us what you love about it. Leave contact email in the comment. Book winner will be chosen by July 12.

To Librarians:
Give a roar for more Library Lions interviews. If you’re a Youth Librarian working in a school or public library we’d love to hear about you and your library. Contact Janet at janetleecarey@hotmail.com for an interview slot.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Welcome to Library Lions interviews. Raising a Roar for Libraries and for the outstanding Librarians serving Children and Young Adults in Schools and Public Libraries across the U.S. Please Roar today’s guest Adriana, Teen Librarian in California’s Alhambra Civic Center Library

Adriana is one of the recipients of the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color Scholarship in 2006. Adriana traveled to Dallas, Texas to attend the first JCLC Conference, which brought together all five ethnic caucuses of ALA. Let’s hear from Adriana.

The Skinny:
I’ve been a teen librarian for two and a half years. Working in libraries inspired me to become a librarian. I love reading (always have) and I love the idea of a place where anyone can come to explore all there is inside the endless amounts of literary material. The thing I love the most about my work is the moment when someone’s eyes light up after you find a book they have been waiting to read. I totally get what that feels like and it never gets old.
Truth be told, when I was a young girl myself I used to pretend that my kitchen table was a library counter and I would put due date slips in all of my own books and check them out to my brother and sister. I don’t think I got all of my books back and I could probably collect a pretty hefty library fine from them now.

Our Teen Area

Library Laughs:
Okay, I don’t know if this is funny or gross or both. When I was working in Circulation a few years back at a university library I found a stale, old hamburger patty left inside the pages of one of the library books. I showed all of my co-workers my find and we were just left speechless and baffled. The best we could come up with was that they brought in their tasty lunch to eat in the library and when they feared they would get caught, they stuck the patty haphazardly in the book?? But we were left wondering, what happened to the bun?

A Lion’s Pride of Programs:
I would love more teens to know about our super-duper summer reading program (this is the second year we are doing it). We are straying from the “making waves” theme and doing our own “making a difference” theme. Our focus is on exploring different areas of community involvement, social awareness, and of course reading! Each week teens are eligible to read for prizes, as well as attend free events. If they complete all four weeks of reading and reporting, teens are eligible to enter in our grand prize raffles, which boast prizes such as an Apple iPod, a digital camera, FEED Hunger Project bags and bracelets, and a multitude of signed books donated by numerous (very generous) YA authors.

Some of our events will be making blankets to donate to Project Linus (an organization that donates blankets to hospitalized children), and putting together care packages to send overseas. The program starts June 28th and more information can be found on our MySpace and Facebook pages, which will be updated with photographs from all of our events and programs as the summer progresses (myspace.com/alhambrateens & facebook.com/alhambrateens).

AIDS Awareness Clothesline

Reaching Readers:
I try to reach our readers by promoting our programs as much as possible. We also use our MySpace and Facebook pages quite a bit. I’m also constantly reading YA books (last year I read 71). I try to keep our teen collection as up to date as possible, with as many in-demand titles on our shelves as I can. Many times teens approach the reference desk with suggestions of their own, and in our library Manga and vampire or supernatural and fantasy reads are the most popular. I love when we get new books in and as soon as I put them out they get borrowed. Our teens are definitely avid readers and I’m so happy to be able to provide a plethora of books for them to devour.

Readers Roar:

~“Woot if you LOVE James Patterson! It’s soooo cool! I love it! I wish I had all of James Patterson’s books in my house! Oh yea! 100% yea! Oh my gosh yes!” Lily, Grade 8

~Review of Skip Beat v.1 by Yoshiki Nakamura “I liked that the main character, Kyoko, is so independent and is brave enough to go into showbiz and acting.” Macy, Grade 9

~Review of Night World (Daughters of Darkness) by L.J. Smith “I like how they solve what they needed to solve and it felt very real, like you’re in the book with them. I also like how it’s romantic and sweet.” Jenny, Grade 8

~“What I like about the library are the endless possibilities of subjects to read and study.” Roxanne, Grade 12

Book Brag: What three books are hot this year. Why?
~ House of Night series by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast. I think they are popular because of the vampire phenomenon going on in books and media, and also because the books themselves are great at portraying a vampire world within a school academy, while at the same time characterizing teen angst and a coming of age tale.

~Any book by Nicholas Sparks. With all the movies coming out based on his books (The Notebook, Dear John, and The Last Song, to name a few), readers of all ages have been asking for these titles, but especially teenage girls.

~The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell. With the second Sex and the City movie coming out this year, this look at Carrie Bradshaw before she came to the big city is pretty popular. Its popularity will continue if they decide to make a movie out of it, which is pretty much the prerequisite to being a hot item at our library.

Author! Author!
The best author visit is when they engage teen readers and get across the message that anything is possible, regardless of what you are doing, be it writing or any other career. We had a great author visit from Lisa Yee this past March and by the end of her visit the teens were clamoring to speak with her and asking when the next author visit would be. I also think having a great sense of humor and being down to earth really comes across and is appealing to teen audiences, so that would be essential for the perfect author visit as well.

Library Lion’s Roar
I’m just so happy to be a part of “library land”. I think these days’ people are inundated with the media, news, and the internet, but it’s so nice to be in a career where you can get a little bit of everything. At the library you can read about current events, but you can also escape into faraway lands and talk to other people about books, community events, and life in general. In essence I’m so happy to be a part of a profession that truly wants to improve people’s lives, and there is such a feeling of family and community in that. I love it!

Thank you Adriana for your terrific interview!

Give a roar for more Library Lions interviews! Roar for your library in the "comments" below.

If you’re a Youth Librarian working in a school or public library we’d love to hear about you and your library. Contact Janet at janetleecarey@hotmail.com for an interview slot.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Library Lions interviews ~ Raising a Roar for Libraries and for the outstanding Librarians serving Children and Young Adults in Schools and Public Libraries across the U.S. Please Roar today’s guest, Karen Kline. In her years of service, Karen was also instrumental in bringing Read Across America to the Lake Washington School District.

Welcome Karen. First up let’s hear the skinny.

The Skinny:I’ve been a librarian since 1994 when I graduated from the University of Arizona with an MLS. I am currently working at Emily Dickinson Elementary and Explorer Elementary in Redmond, Washington. I serve students from K-6
Here's a pic

Interestingly, I attended an elementary school for two years that had no librarian or real library – just a small collection of donated books in a common area. I don’t recommend that!

Library Laughs: The first library I managed was a new portable building that seemed to have been placed on the migratory path of scorpions – one of my volunteers was stung (she was okay in the end). The same school had the custodian walk the perimeter of the playground prior to recess to do “snake patrol.” Only in Arizona!

Inspiration:I decided to become a librarian the year I was assigned to teach middle school science with no textbook – the building had spent all the money on lab materials that year at the new school, and I was only allowed use of the lab two days a week. I spent a lot of time in the library creating curriculum materials!

I love finding the right book for the right reader. I love reading and interpreting literature for students and hearing the ahs, oohs, and laughs in all the right places. I love being bombarded by students after a book talk asking if they can check out the book that I presented.

Hidden Treasure: The best goldmine in the library is often the librarian’s assistant. These folks catch all the bizarre things that go on behind the scenes. They alert the librarian to things she may have missed and keep things running smoothly. My advice: make friends with the librarian’s assistant and bring her chocolate!

My favorite library program is our district’s Battle of the Books. Seeing kids huddle up to discuss the answers to questions about what they’ve read and get excited about books is fuel on the librarian’s fire!

Reaching Readers:Kids seem to stay very current in what is hot on the reading scene. Last year’s favorite books don’t seem to remain favorites into the next year. To reach today’s young reader, I try to interview students to find out what books they’ve read recently and liked and try to suggest similar reads. Moreover, it works even better if a peer can recommend books to another peer, so I try to give time in class for peer book recommendations. Our library catalog is soon to allow students to submit their own reviews, and I think that will be exciting for young readers.

Reader Roar:
“Why can’t we just spend the school day reading what we want to read?”
Nelly, Grade 6

Book Brag: What three books are hot this year and why?
~ The Piggie and Elephant series by Mo Willems -- These books seem to really understand kid humor.
~ The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins -- Gore, suspense, and an element of survival make this one a hit.
~ The Two Bobbies: The True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship and Survival by Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery – This book was a landslide winner of the Washington Children’s Choice Award. I think kids really identified with the struggles of the animals in this heartbreaking story.

Author! Author!
The perfect author visit begins with teachers who promote the author’s books weeks (maybe months) before the visit. I love it when a class has had a class read aloud or two from the author’s works. Small group meetings with the author are optimal. Of course, the books must be wonderful and engaging, and then everything seems to fall into place.

Library Lion’s Roar:
We library and book lovers must continue to band together at the polls to pass levies and elect officials who promise and keep promises to fund school and public libraries. It is unacceptable to fund libraries from donations and to staff libraries with volunteers. Our libraries are a public good that pay off untold dividends!

Thank you, Karen for your terrific interview!
Give a Roar for more Library Lions interviews!
If you’re a Youth Librarian working in a school or public library we’d love to hear about you and your library. Contact Janet at janetleecarey@hotmail.com for an interview slot.