A few of Stephanie’s Favorite Things…
Okay, I kinda lied about the order of importance. There is no possible way that I could do my job without a ton of coffee. I usually drink anywhere from 6-10 cups a day. I know this isn’t healthy but…it is what it is. At least I stopped when I got pregnant!
I cannot stress enough how much Edelweiss has helped me with collection development. Some of you who have been with TLT for a while may remember my post which I so lovingly called: Edelweiss, or Crack Cocaine for Librarians/Collection Development People. Edelweiss in its simplest terms is just a website, originally created for bookstores for purchasing, that collects the publishers catalogs. Because of this website, you can view catalogs from almost all of the publishers and create your book orders months in advance. Plus, they have egalleys and a ton of other material to access. Create an account and get sucked into the happiness of ordering!
Times are a changing and to be quite honest, I’m not sure how you can remain current and not belong to some sort of social media. While Facebook is good for connecting and keeping in touch with people, Twitter is the best for keeping in touch with what is happening RIGHT NOW. If not for Twitter, I wouldn’t have made at least 60% of the connections that I have today. I met Karen and TLT through Twitter, several authors who have introduced themselves TO ME (that was fun!), and other professionals in this field who are so passionate about youth services that it is impossible for me to have a down day without being surrounded by my Tweeps. I have one good friend via Twitter who can instantly make me smile and keeps me going when times get hard.
My job is the YA Coordinator for a 10 branch library system in North Louisiana called the Ouachita Parish Public Library, recently chosen as one of Library Journal’s Star Libraries receiving 5 stars…the first time a library has received that honor in our state. I’m a little proud. With 10 branches comes having 9 staff members, all but one being a paraprofessional, who work with YA services in addition to reference. These nine staffers are some of the hardest working, talented, ambitious staff members in the system, in my opinion. They make my job so much easier and enjoyable. We’ve undergone some staff changes this year and I have 6 newbies who have taken on their jobs within the past year. It’s been tough at times but we finally have a great cohesive group and I love them! Also, I have a wonderful administration who places a very high emphasis on YA services. Without my Director and Assistant Director, I’d be completely at a loss. They provide me with an amazing book budget, programming budget, and rarely tell me no. It’s a wonderful partnership.
KDL What’s Next Database
When I first started working at the public library in 2004, my supervisor at the time showed me the KDL What’s Next website and I’ve used it ever since. That’s eight years of longevity for this site and while I am sure there are things out there that may be bigger and better, this is my go-to site when I am looking up series for YA and Adult books. I use this website on a daily basis and when I am ordering books, the tab stays open at all times. Keeping up with series at 10 different branches can be tough and without KDL, I couldn’t do it!
I pray that duct tape never really goes away in libraries. We’ve been harnessing the power of the tape for a very long time and back when I started duct tape programming, there was only silver. Now there are a variety of colors, designs, and you can even purchase it in large sheets. I have a large tote in my supplies filled with tons of duct tape in all different colors. I have used it all in about 100 different ways. Some of my favorite ways? Repairing my leather couch in the YA area after someone poked a hole through it with a pen, making duct tape flip flops for some of my teens who did not have shoes to wear to the library but wanted to be here (true story), marking extension cords for different branches (each one of our branches has an assigned color), and just the programming in general.
I read a lot. And I like to keep track of what I read and set goals for myself. One of my most used personal and professional tools is my Goodreads account. It allows me to not have to remember if I’ve read that book or not and even to feel super smart when I get closer to my goal of 125 books this year. I’m at 119 as I write this post. Hopefully I’ll hit it!
Detention Center Outreach
I really like teens in jail. I love all my teens but there is something about working with incarcerated youth that absolutely brightens my day. The majority of my teens live in a world that unless you’ve been there, you can never understand. I still don’t. Some of them I want to shake and scream at them to just not do certain things but as one of my favorite teen boys (now in jail for attempted murder…yes, murder) told me one day in my office, “Mrs. Stephanie, sometimes it kill or be killed. Sometimes you try to make the right decisions but the wrong ones can cause members of your family to get hurt. I try but I have to take care of my family.” Can you imagine being told that? And let me just say, the boy who told me this is one of the nicest, most well-spoken teen boys that I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. I went to his court cases, I spoke with his parole officer about his behavior in the library and how different it was than on the streets, but in the end, he made a decision that will affect him for the rest of his life. So, what does this mean for me, the librarian? I advocate for their continual need to be enriched by literature. To learn different worldviews and to understand the world that exists outside of our tiny zip code and to also understand that choices bear consequences. I advocate that they are, despite the gravity of the decisions, still teens. And I treat them as such but with respect and love. I talk to them about who THEY ARE AND CAN BECOME not what they did. Many people disagree with me but I have earned a large amount of respect with my incarcerated teens and many return to visit with me when they get out of jail and bring their moms and grandmothers to meet me. I know I am making a difference. I just pray that they can survive each day.
Authors, Agents, Editors, Publishers, Oh My!
Over the past few years, I have extended my professional network outside of just librarians and those working in libraries in YA services. Why? Because my relationships with authors, editors, agents, publishers, etc. has been overwhelmingly beneficial to me in my job. I think that more and more librarians are starting to realize the possibility of networking outside of libraries but it’s still mindblowing how many of my sales rep friends or friends in different divisions of publishing companies have absolutely no idea what librarians do and how we operate with our teens. The relationships I’ve cultivated and maintained have helped me out, in knowing my books like a rockstar, but have also been mutually beneficial in that I am able to help people understand how we market their books in libraries, what teens like (or don’t like), and how we run our services with programming and outreach.
EarlyWord YA Galley Chat
I love knowing about what is coming out ahead of time and the EarlyWord YA Galley Chat allows me to do just that, compare notes with people around the world, and even snag copies of ARCs from super sweet publishers. Galley chat has been instrumental in helping me stay ahead of the game on popular trends in YA fiction as well as upcoming ARCs that will make good purchases for my library. We meet monthly via Twitter on the third Tuesday of each month at 4PM EST. Just follow the hashtag #ewyagc and hang out with us! (You can even come 30 minutes early for virtual cocktails!)
Well, that’s about it for me. Have a Happy Holiday season, be merry, bah humbug, and Happy Chrismahanukwazakah!
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About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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