BookForce, parties, Extra Lives, and more…

So I have been busy like you would not believe the last two weeks, thereby immediately shooting down my promise to blog daily again. Let’s go with blogging “regularly” and leave it at that from now on. The reason I have been so busy is primarily my work at the library, specifically work with our up-and-coming new teen advisory group, BookForce. Let’s experiment with a “More…” tag and put the rest of my story below the cut!

I mentioned before that teen and YA services here were overlooked to a certain extent before I arrived. Teens had a place here, and we had some YA literature interfiled with adult fiction (a no-no to those versed in current library theory and practice, but I digress), but teens weren’t actively using this place outside of our public access computers. So when I got here I took a few significant steps toward including teens into the library.

The first one was to create The Lair. The Lair is our new YA section here, primarily targeted at the 13-18 age group, although crossover titles exist in both our juvenile fiction area and upstairs in adult fiction. I pulled out YA fiction that had been interfiled upstairs and moved it down to my area on first floor, and also ordered many new titles using recent review sources to help me find a wide variety of things to put on the shelves. The collection itself was supplemented handily by a pair of Sumosac Gamer chairs (in red) and a pair of PBTeen Cushy Lounge corner chairs (in black) to give teens a cool space to sit (or splay) and read. That got all the way up and running in June and I’ve been actively promoting it to anyone who looks even close to the right age since then.

The second step was to form a teen advisory group here. Teen advisories are relatively common in libraries now, and they’re basically a library board comprised entirely of teens that helps plan teen events and suggests new teen fiction. It took a lot of work to get this off the ground: initial teen events were met with mediocre reception because teens weren’t accustomed to thinking of the library as a place to have fun, and getting teens to commit to anything like a permanent advisory team was shaky work at first. However, now I have a fairly dedicated nuclear group of about six teens with a few hangers-on who come and go depending on their availability. In keeping with the superhero theme I’m trying to coalesce in the teen space, we named the teen advisory group BookForce, which sounds somewhat superhero-team chic. Teen events are still largely composed of that same group, but we’re starting to draw in a few more each event. Hopefully in a few years we will have attendance at teen events which numbers in the teens! Right now we’re still drawing single-digit crowds most of the time.

So anyway, last week was a big event and planning week for BookForce and my dedicated teens – which meant I was moving constantly! Knowing that school was right around the corner, we had a teen party at the library on August 26th. This party followed what I think will be a fairly established formula at future teen events – video games and Guitar Hero for the first couple of hours, along with some fun teen-friendly board games (Zombies!!! by Twilight Creations is a big hit with this crowd – I may have to buy a copy for the library) and hang-out time, followed by a movie at about 4:30 – we watched the new Alice in Wonderland this time. The formula seems to give the teens everything they want in an afternoon – gaming, chatting, and a movie – with pizza, of course! I’m a big fan of “if it works, stick with it” so we will likely follow this trend in the future, adapting movies for the occasion (why do I get the feeling we may watch a zombie movie for Halloween… editor’s note – as I was writing this I checked, and there are a paucity of good PG-13 zombie flicks, which probably shoots the zombie idea since I promise parents nothing R-rated or M/AO rated).

The day after that we had the culmination of BookForce’s community service project for the summer – our Free Children’s Book Day. BookForce had prepared donation boxes in June, and we placed them in the major stores here in our small Wisconsin community to collect book donations. The donation drive part of the project went extraordinarily well – we received a huge quantity of gently-used children’s books suitable for giving away to our community. However, despite my best attempts at advertising, the book giveaway on the 27th went poorly at best. We had about four families come in a six-hour day, and were left with three boxes of books to sell at our library book sale in February. Further, our donation jar to help with future BookForce events bombed too – we got two dollars, which isn’t even enough to buy snacks for our next event. So on the whole that day was disappointing, but did result in more Zombies!!! and a couple of interesting conversations.

The most interesting thing that happened Friday, though, was my unintentional discovery of Extra Life. Extra Life is part of the video game website Sarcastic Gamer. Their goal is to have an annual video game marathon across the country to raise money for children’s hospitals. Their website organizes people who volunteer to play and gives a venue to receive donations toward the hospitals of choice. I showed the site to Adam, my teen advisory leader, and he was as excited about the possibility of participating as I was. So, after a few conversations with my director and the other staff, BookForce is now participating in Extra Life! On October 16th, we will be playing video games at the library for 24 hours to raise money for Saint Joseph’s Children’s Hospital of Marshfield, WI.  Of course, now that I’ve told you this, my loyal readers, I’m also going to plug you for a donation: please go to our team page and donate to myself or one of the teens playing in this event. We never see the money – it all goes to the hospital through Extra Life. So if you’re looking for a charitable, tax-deductible place to spend some money, may I encourage you to sponsor us.

So that is the most recent news from the library… I will post again soon, probably with a book review or some other goodie next time instead of just news.

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