Welcome to Library Lions interviews. Raising a Roar for Libraries

Welcome to Library Lions interviews. Raising a Roar for Libraries

Monday, December 31, 2012


Happy New Year from Library Lions. Today we’re celebrating the New Year with a terrific guest post by Karen Jensen 

(This is me with my "I mustache you to read" mustache)
Karen is the Young Adult/Teen Services Librarian at the Betty Warmack Branch Library in Grand Prairie, Texas.

I located the article below by Karen at one of our favorite sites Teen Librarian Toolbox   
Let er rip, Karen!

Are Libraries a Waste?

Sometimes, it seems as if we are speaking out of both sides of our mouth: Education is important . . . wait, no it's not. Children/Teens are important . . . wait, no they're not.

Here's the deal, we send messages - big, huge, cultural messages - to our children by what we choose to put our money behind. You remember the old adage; do what I say not as I do. But the truth is, today's youth see what we do and they are getting our message loud and clear!!!

Case in point, Senator Coburn (R, OK) recently put together a look as wasteful government spending in a document called The Waste Book 2012. We all know there is a lot of wasteful spending in the government, this is not news. In fact, I would argue that our elected public officials (aka PUBLIC SERVANTS) receiving 6 or more figure salaries is a form of wasteful spending, but I digress. Some of the spending that was highlighted included library spending for tween and teen programming. The money came from a grant. One example was a Star Wars Reads program that had over 100 people in attendance and cost $365. This is approximately $4.00 per person, if you round up. That's not a bad deal at all. And I for one think that our children are worth $4.00 a head. Read the full report here.

Read the District Dispatch from ALA here.

 What's the value of library programming?
      .  It encourages tweens and teens to visit and learn how to use their libraries
  • Almost all programming has a literacy component and can be tied into collections
  • Star Wars programs encourage math, science, diversity, and socialization skills - to name a few
  • Library programming supports and encourages a 40 Developmental Assets approach to youth empowerment and community improvement. The 40 Developmental Assets are proven to decrease at risk behaviors and increase beneficial behaviors.
  • Any type of programming that promotes tweens and teens getting active in their communities also takes them off of the streets and promotes constructive use of time
The list can go on, actually, but I think we can all see the value in tween and teen programming in libraries. Public libraries (and school libraries) are ESSENTIAL to healthy kids, healthy communities, healthy democracy and healthy futures.

 Library programming can't happen for free:

Your most basic cost for programming is usually never even accounted for: staff time. Library staff must spend time researching the components of a program, putting together publicity materials, promoting said program, purchasing materials, setting up, hosting the program and then cleaning up afterwards. We put our heart and soul (and sometimes our own time and money) into providing quality, competitive programming for our patrons. And yes, it has to be competitive and our biggest competition is often electronic.

Outside of staff, supplies are needed. You just can't have a program without them. And supplies can be expensive - technology, craft supplies or after school snacks all cost money. Tweens and teens come to the library not only hungry for knowledge, but sometimes just downright hungry. In order for good learning to take place, tweens and teens cannot be distracted by hunger.

Between our two branches we had over 100 participants in attendance. We talked science and math, we read books, and we spent our time creatively engaged in ways that were beneficial to our tweens and teens and gave them something meaningful to do on a Saturday afternoon.




Want to help libraries? Here's what you can do! (This next part comes from a call to action from ALA so please help us spread the word)

Library Workers & Advocates,

Senator Coburn (R, OK), says that a $365 library program for teens is a waste of government spending! He needs to hear from you and your library’s supporters that this is absolutely not true! Please Tweet, email or call him today and encourage others to do so! You can read about the details of what he said here:http://ow.ly/ey13P

Send him a Tweet:

@TomCoburn a $365#library prgrm 2 teach teens the science behind Star Wars is a great investment! Teens learn#STEM & have a safe place 2 b

Send him an email (via his web site’s form http://www.coburn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contactform)

 Senator Coburn,

It is simply not right to include a $365 library program in your 2012 Wastebook. A program that teaches teens the science behind Star Wars is a great way for teens to learn critical STEM skills and to expose them to the great resources that their library has to offer. The Afterschool Alliance says that 8 in 10 Americans want all children and teens to have some type of organized activity or safe place to go after school, and library programs like these meet that need. I hope you will agree with me that $365 is a tiny but wholly worthwhile investment in our country’s future. In fact, the nation’s 42 million teens need more funds for programs like these.

I hope that you will take action to ensure America’s teens have access to great library and after school programs that help them prepare for a productive life after high school. Each September the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) celebrates Teen Read Week, and thousands of libraries, including mine host events to get more teens reading for leisure, because studies show that reading for fun helps students achieve more in school. Please join YALSA and my library in celebrating. It’s an easy way to show that you care about the education, welfare and safety of the nation’s 42 million teens and their families.

Phone him: (202) 224-5754


Library Lions Readers Give a Roar!
 What can Library Lovers Do? Pick one or more and do it! 
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local paper and let them know that you support all that your local library does for your community.
  • Write to your local school and public library administrators and let them know that you appreciate the role of libraries in your child's education and community and let them know that you support libraries.
  • Share your positive library thoughts and experiences on your various social media sites.
  • Visit your library often, and let them know how much you appreciate what they do.
  • Find out if your library accepts donations - either money or books - and then donate.
  • If your library has a Friends group, join and participate.
  • If your local library has an issue on the ballot, vote to support your library.
Public libraries support education, recreation and democracy for all members of all communities. Support yours today.

Please leave a comment letting us know that you don't think libraries are a waste!
                                                                       *   *   *

Thanks so much for the great article, Karen.
Follow Karen and TLT!
Teen Librarian Toolbox

More about Karen Jensen:
I have been a Young Adult/Teen Services Librarian for 19 years and love working with teens, teen fiction, and graphic design. My favorite reads include Chris Crutcher, Sarah Dessen, Scott Westerfeld, fantasy, science fiction and zombies (Rot and Ruin is my absolute fave zombie book). I have an undergraduate degree from Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Youth Ministry with a minor in Psychology and I received my MLS from Kent State University in 2002. I have been a reviewer for VOYA magazine since 2001. For the past 2 years I have been a part of the Wild Child Conference board.

Love Libraries? Give a Roar in “Comments” below.
Note to Librarians: 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 jlcarey@hotmail.com for an interview slot. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Welcome to Library Lions interviews Raising a Roar for libraries and the outstanding librarians serving youth in schools and public libraries across the U.S. Please Roar today’s guest, Author Clare Hodgson Meeker here to share her Library Love with us.

Clare is an award-winning Northwest children’s book author with 10 published books and over 20 magazine stories, including the Smithsonian Notable Book Lootas Little Wave Eater (Sasquatch Books) which was selected by the Washington State Library for their Summer “Washington Reads” program.

Olive and Max’s Big Backyard magazine series for The National Wildlife Federation’s “Your Big Backyard” which was a finalist for the Association of Educational Publishers Distinguished Achievement award in 2008. Hansa:The True Story of an Asian Elephant Baby, and many more.
Her latest book title is, Soccer Dreams: Playing the Seattle Sounders FC Way (Creating One 2011).

Clare teaches writing workshops in elementary and middle schools throughout the northwest and to adults at Richard Hugo House, a writers cooperative in Seattle, Washington. She also speaks at conferences, most recently at the Washington Library and Media Conference and the Washington Organization for Reading Development Conferences in Spokane, Washington in Fall, 2011.

 Library Love When You Were A Cub

The library in my hometown of Cold Spring Harbor, New York was a colonial house next to a park that overlooked Long Island Sound. I remember curling up in a window seat in the reading room with
The Secret Garden by, Frances Hodgson Burnett and pretending that I was looking out over the Yorkshire moors like Mary, the main character in the book.
Library Love from an Author’s Perspective

Libraries are an important gathering place for people of all ages and economic levels. They foster community, provide an invaluable resource for doing research, and present an atmosphere that makes reading and writing accessible to everyone. 

A Roar For Librarians!

I have two special librarians I would like to give a shout out to: Margaret McDonald, the Children's librarian at the Mercer Island Library and Jennifer Fenton, formerly with the Sno-Isle Library System and now a CE trainer and webinar specialist with the Washington State Library. Both women who are at opposite ends of the age spectrum have shown equal devotion to their jobs and reached out in creative ways to introduce library resources and authors like myself to diverse communities - from home schoolers in King County to Native American communities east of the mountains.

A Lion’s Pride of Programs
There is no better way for children to see what goes into writing a book than writing one yourself. One of my favorite library visits with them involves making a buddy poem book.

Sitting in pairs at activity tables, children interview each other to find a common interest to use as a refrain for their poem and take turns writing every other line in each of 3 stanzas.

Then they copy their poems into small books they made out of  8 1/2” X 14” paper and decorated with colorful origami paper covers. When it came time to performing their poems together at a recent Mercer Island library workshop, there was a buzz of excitement and pride in the room as each pair took turns sharing their work.

Author’s Roar: Funding for libraries, especially school libraries, is currently under threat. As an author, what are your thoughts about that? 
I understand the attraction of the Internet as a convenient research tool and a place to share ideas and opinions. But I can’t imagine a world without libraries - a place where you can hold a book in your hand, smell the paper and leather binding, and be guided to new worlds and new ideas by an insightful librarian. School libraries are critical because they are often the first and sometimes the only place where a child is introduced to the power of books and reading.   

Let’s Link

Thank you for sharing your Library Love with us, Clare!

Love Libraries? Give a Roar in “Comments” below.

Note to Librarians: 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 jlcarey@hotmail.com for an interview slot. 


Thursday, November 15, 2012


Welcome to Library Lions interviews Raising a Roar for libraries and the outstanding librarians serving youth in schools and public libraries across the U.S. Please Roar today’s guest author Suzanne Selfors who’s stopping by today to share her Library Love with us.

I’ve been writing full-time since 2002 when my daughter started 1st grade. I registered for a writing class that very day and have been working steadily ever since. My first two novels were historical epics set in ancient Greece. They got me an agent and a lot of publisher rejection letters. So I changed course and wrote To Catch A Mermaid, for kids and it ended up at auction.

I write both middle grade and teen novels, most of which contain magical elements. Writing for kids is rewarding beyond measure. Even a trip to the dreaded post office is transformed by this career. Every day, stuffed between bills and junk mail, I find letters from young readers—handwritten letters, not texts or emails. It’s a huge honor to know that a child has welcomed your story into her/his life.

I’ve earned some accolades along the way—a couple of Junior Library Guild awards, Kids Indie Pick, Scholastic Bookfair bestseller, Bank Street Best Books, starred reviews, state lists, things like that. I’m not yet a New York Times Bestseller but maybe one day…

Library Love When You Were A Cub:
I grew up on Bainbridge Island, WA and our library was small but well-stocked. The children’s section was down in the basement. My sister and I went once a week, with our mother, and I remember checking out as many picture books as I could carry. Then I’d spread them out on our living room carpet and read them all in one sitting.

One day when we parked in the lot, we were greeted by a small, shaggy dog. She followed us to the entrance and the librarian told us that the dog had been hanging out for a few days and no one had claimed her. When we came out with our arms loaded with books, the dog jumped into our car. She became my beloved childhood dog, Lulu. When my mom tells this story she always ends it with the line, “Lulu was the best thing we ever checked out at the library.”

The Bainbridge Library has a beautiful garden, complete with Otter sculptures and a fish pond.


What’s Your Experience of Libraries from an Author’s Perspective?

There’s a scene in my book, Smells Like Dog,
where Homer, Dog and Lorelei do some research in the public library. The room is warm and softly lit and everyone, including the librarian, is fast asleep. It’s a sanctuary of sorts.

I don’t fall asleep in libraries, but the quiet they provide is one of my favorite things. A place to be still, a place to focus, a place to lose myself in story.

Funding for libraries, especially school libraries, is currently under threat. As an author, what are your thoughts about that?  
It totally sucks. Those are my thoughts.

Every single library I visit is struggling. During a recent Oregon school district visit, I learned that all the librarians were being laid off. Most school librarians tell me they have zero dollars to buy new books. Those who have money don’t get it from the school district or state, they get it from parent fundraising, so if you have involved parents you’re lucky. One librarian was putting together a presentation for his local school board members, to convince them that school librarians are valuable contributors to the school environment. Yeesh. Imagine a football coach having to make that same speech. That’ll never happen.

Librarians are not alone in this crisis. The publishing industry itself is facing great turmoil as the book takes on new forms. Independent bookstores are dying as Amazon.com eats a bigger and bigger part of the market. And authors are facing smaller advances and disappearing school visit fees.

I’m getting depressed as I write this. What gives me hope is this—we book lovers are creative people. Intelligent people. Inspired, passionate, obsessed people. We will figure this out.

Library Visit Photo

Roar for Reading!

While I haven’t visited ALA, I’ve been to NCTE, IRA, TLA to name a few.  My very first conference my publisher sent me to was IRA and I was asked to give a speech about Summer Reading for Teens. No one had ever heard of me. My book, Saving Juliet,

had just come out. This was my first big speech. The conference room was packed with librarians and English teachers. On the stage sat a panel of best-selling authors and little ole me. I was a nervous wreck. I got through the speech, got some laughs because I confessed that my favorite summer read when I was a teen was Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask, a book I had discovered in the back of my mom’s linen closet. The great part was after the speech. My publisher led me to a booth where I was scheduled to sign and there was a line waiting for me. A line! For me. Amazing.

Photo: signing books with Shannon Hale.

A Roar for School Visits:  
It took me a while to figure out the whole school visit thing. My first year of publication, I visited for free because I had no idea what I was doing. It was a great way to test the audience, see what reactions I got. I quickly learned that I do not like visiting high schools. Even though I write for teens, I’m not very comfortable with them. Honestly, I’d rather get a root canal than face all that eye-rolling. But elementary schools – that’s a whole different world. I thrive with that audience. 3rd, 4th and 5th graders are amazing!

My presentation is all about the genesis of ideas. I bring lots of props and get the kids to dress up like characters from my books. The goal is to get them to see themselves as storytellers. Pictures from my childhood and examples of my early stories and drawings help the students see me as a real person who was just like them once—just a kid with a head full of ideas.

Finally let's end with a little chocolate. . .

 Let’s Link Up:
Susanne's Website 

Suzanne's Facebook Page   

Thank you for sharing your Library Love with us, Suzanne!

Love Libraries? Give a Roar in “Comments” below.

Note to Librarians: 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 jlcarey@hotmail.com for an interview slot. 


Friday, November 2, 2012


Welcome to Library Lions interviews Raising a Roar for libraries and the outstanding librarians serving youth in schools and public libraries across the U.S. Please Roar today’s guest, Cynthia Bartek!

Seen here with the amazing author Libba Bray. (Okay I’m a little jealous of this photo, Cynthia).

The SkinnyI’m one of the Librarians at Becker Library, which serves St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, Texas.  St. Stephen’s is a private school that instructs students in grades 6-12. 

I love playing “matchmaker” for readers with books!  Nothing is more satisfying than finding just the right book for either a reluctant or a voracious reader.  I also love working with our Middle School students in the Computer Lab on their Information Literacy skills.
A Lion’s Pride of Programs
We love to sponsor students at local events and conferences.  Becker Library regularly registers and chaperons students at the Texas Library Association “Texas Teensfor Libraries” Day, otherwise known as TT4L.  A posse of our students gets to attend as special guests for the day, visit the exhibitors’ showroom, and get VIP access to prominent YA authors!

We also sponsor students to serve as greeters and escorts for visiting YA authors at the Austin Teen Book Festival, a growing local event which saw over 3,000 attendees this year!  

Becker Library is happy to join with our fabulous committee in hosting our semi-annual Literary Festival, which brings our whole student body into contact with all sorts of people who use writing in their careers:  novelists, journalists, songwriters, bloggers, and historians, among others!

Once a month, our Librarians gather up some of our best and coolest new books and display them in the Middle School building, so that any student can browse and check out books on the spot!  We call it “Booked for Lunch,” and it’s a great way for kids to mingle over reading material.  Word of mouth from peers is the best way to get things circulating.
Readers Roar! Let's Hear From the Kids!
 “A book is like a roller coaster ride, you read it and want to read it again.”  Audryanna, 6th grade

“The library is like Wonderland where we are Alice with a new discovery around each corner.” Kali, 8th grade

 “I like the library- the knowledge just seems to seep out of these books and into our minds.” – Hallie, 11th grade

“Upperclassmen like the library because we get the comfy couches.”  - Larkin, 11th grade

“The library is a great place to chill with my friends.” – Gavin, 7th grade

“I like funny books; they make me laugh and help me find my next good joke.” – Andrew, 8th grade

Library Laughs
Once, a group of students set up hidden speakers in the library shelves and tuned each of the computers to the same YouTube video so that when we walked in, we were surrounded by the sounds of monkey chatter, elephant trumpets, lion roars, and a general animal cacophony. It was like walking into our own private jungle!

Book Brag: What three books are hot this year? Why?
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater is popular because it’s one we recommend a lot(!) and because it contains enough action to satisfy those Hunger Games readers who are searching for a read-alike.  It also appeals to both male and female readers.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: Well, for one thing, it’s by JOHN GREEN!  He has a huge online following; his vlog is wonderfully quirky and informative, and his writing is stellar.  He captures the teen voice better than anyone I can think of.  

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is in demand because of the current movie tie-in.  Our Upper School students are passing this book around a lot, and it’s an upcoming selection for readers in our Literary Society, which is a student-run reading group.

 Author! Author!  
The perfect author visit can be either in person or via Skype.  In fact, a Skype session with wonderful author Laurie Halse Anderson at a recent Literary Festival at our school pretty much fits the definition!  She was candid and open with the students.  She took a photo of us and tweeted it while we were in session!  We had a warm and genuine dialogue, and she even took the time to ask the name of each student who asked her a question.  She’s a real advocate for youth and is honest and fearless when discussing her writing.

Library Lion’s Roar: ONE LAST BIG ROAR
As part of the Library’s outreach, I have developed an Information Literacy class for our 6th graders, which is part of our curriculum and runs all school year.  We cover all sorts of 21st Century library skills and learn how to use databases, cite sources, evaluate websites, and stay safe on the Internet as good digital citizens!


Let’s Link
Blog (s):  http://blogs.sstx.org/library/

Library Website:  https://www.sstx.org/library?rc=1


Thank you, Cynthia! Your school library sounds terrific! We’re here to Roar for Libraries and to create a space for librarians to share their amazing youth programs.  

 To Blog Readers: Love Libraries? Give a Roar in “Comments” below.

Note to Librarians: 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 jlcarey@hotmail.com for an interview slot.