September 10, 2020 Meeting

9.10.20 Meeting Minutes

Manager:  Joe Marcantonio (Schaumburg)
Incoming Manager:  Izabel Gronski (Oak Lawn)
Outgoing Manager: Lisa Barefield (Wheaton)
YASF Board Members: Kylie Peters (Geneva), Tracey Vittorio (Plainfield), Quinn Stitt (Berwyn)
Virtual Attendance: Nicole (Glenview), Rachel & Donna (Niles), Evan (Arlington Heights), Haley (Oswego), Krista (Wilmette), Kate (Six Mile), Sonya (ELA), Yvette (CPL), Susan (DeKalb)
ILA Board Liaison: Veronica De Fazio
ILA Staff Liaison: Cyndi Robinson

Approval of minutes

Board Updates

YASF Updates

  • New Incoming manager announcement
    • It’s Kylie!
    • Social Media Manager replacement TBD
  • iREAD
    • No updates until after ILA
  • The #WeWereHere Project 
    • 31 partners, 29 libraries, 2 schools, and 20 experiences/volunteer opportunities logged
    • Questions should go to Joe & Kylie!


  • Circulating kits
    • Berwyn is doing volunteer kits, making toys for animal shelter
    • Plainfield is doing make and take kits with crafts and STEM stuff once a week
    • Wheaton is also doing one time use take/make kits, trying to make it all inclusive as possible and not assuming any materials would be available at home
    • Niles also doing one off kits to go along with a live/virtual program, like paint-along – if a teen will pick up the kit, they’ll probably come to the program
    • CPL also doing grab and go’s for all ages
    • ELA had a lot of good feedback on a (needle) felting program with presenter from 
    • Joe & Lisa talked about being more careful with zoom programming because parents might be in the room, especially for teens that are not out to their parents yet, or parents may not be as comfortable with regular teen librarian sarcastic banter
    • Discussion of circulating kits that need to be quarantined/cleaned after use
  • ILA
    • Sessions will be recorded and available for 90 days after the conference starting the day after they are presented
    • Live tweeting a virtual conference? Maybe not
    • Alternative could be a short write-up of presentations with links to handouts/slides – volunteers to be recruited!

Open Discussion

  • Sonya asked about teens looking for wifi in the library, any ideas on scripts when you don’t have hotspots available
  • Krista is seeing more teens in the building studying together (no time limit for being in the building), sent out a mailing to families as to what the library can do for them and what they can’t do (collaborative work in the library)

Future Professional Development

  • ILA – Oct 20-22 (Virtual)
  • YALSA Symposium – Nov 6-8 (Virtual)
  • IYSI March 16-17, 2023 in Normal, IL, not happening in 2021

Upcoming Virtual Meetings:

  • Meeting @ ILA, Thursday, October 22 10:00-11:30 registration is on ILA website
  • November 12, 2020 
  • January 14, 2021 
  • February 11, 2021 
  • April 8, 2021
  • May 13, 2021 
  • August 12, 2021
  • September 9, 2021

Tournament of Books Update: September 2020

By Martha Sullivan

I hope you’re ready for a Tournament of Books update, because this one’s a doozy! We’ve gotten a bunch of new nominees, and there are some truly special books making their way into our bracket.

Here are the titles newly nominated since our last update:

Again, Again by E. Lockhart
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown
Camp by Lev Rosen
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro
The Extraordinaries by T.J. Klune
Flamer by Mike Curato
Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez
Go With the Flow by Lily Williams and Karen Schneeman
I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee
In the Role of Brie Hutchens… by Nicole Melleby
Kent State by Deborah Wiles
The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen
More Than Just a Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood
My Eyes Are Up Here by Laura Zimmerman
Rebelwing by Andrea Tang
Running by Natalia Sylvester
Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang
They Went Left by Monica Hesse
Witchlight by Jessi Zabarsky

As always, every one of these titles is worth a look. Here are some highlights to get you started:

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

A newcomer on the YA scene, Aiden Thomas is a queer, trans, Latinx author who advocates for diverse representation in all forms of media. Thomas’ debut novel is, in their own words, “a Dia de Los Muertos paranormal romance about Yadriel (a gay, trans brujo) who accidentally summons the wrong ghost.” Cemetery Boys is a story about a teen reconciling his identity with his conservative family and their traditions, influenced by Thomas’ own experiences.

I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee

I’ll Be the One is a delightful, body positive celebration of K-Pop, fandom, reality TV and romance. Previously known for her middle grade Mindy Kim series, Lyla Lee creates a jubilant voice in Skye Shin, the new plus-sized contender for the Queen of K-Pop. I’ll Be the One discusses the unrealistic standards of beauty that women and girls are held to, and how hard it can be to hold on to your identity when its being dissected by popular media.

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen

The first original graphic novel from Trung Le Nguyen, also known as Trungles, is about the power of stories to help us navigate our lives, filter our own experiences, and even as a way to help others understand us better. Tiến loves fairy tales, and sees in them a way from him to help his Vietnamese-speaking parents better understand what he’s going through as he comes to terms with his identity.

Rebelwing by Andrea Tang

Sometimes the line between science fiction and fantasy is a robot dragon. In this YA fantasy debut, Andrea Tang introduces us to Pru, black-market-media smuggler turned accidental revolutionary when one of her dead drops goes horribly wrong and she ends up being saved by the aforementioned dragon.

Running by Natalia Sylvester

This poignant and timely YA debut from Natalia Sylvester, previous winner of the International Latino Book Award for her adult novel Everyone Knows You Go Home, is about a Cuban-American teen realizing she and her politician father don’t share the same political views, and what it will mean for her to speak out when he is in the midst of a Presidential candidacy.

August 13, 2020

08.13.20 Meeting Minutes

Manager:  Joe Marcantonio (Schaumburg)
Incoming Manager:  Izabel Gronski (Oak Lawn)
Outgoing Manager: Lisa Barefield (Wheaton)
YASF Board Members: Martha Sullivan (Geneva), Kylie Peters (Geneva), Tracey Vittorio (Plainfield)
Virtual Attendance: Haley (Oswego), Nicole (Glenview), Heather (Homer Township), Billie (Gail Borden), Kate (Six Mile), Krista (Wilmette), Donna (Niles), Evan (Arlington Heights), Rachael (Skokie), Susan (DeKalb)
ILA Staff Liaison: Cyndi Robinson

Approval of minutes

Board Updates

  • Social Media Manager 
    • 56 people on Discord (has been quiet), 238 members on Facebook, 131 followers on Twitter
    • ToB update posted to wordpress
  • Tournament of Books Wizard
    • Submit titles here
    • Martha to work on a second post about titles submitted
  • YA Librarian of the Year Award Committee Head
    • Laurel from Skokie was this year’s winner.
    • Committee was great! Shoutout to Rachael and Denise especially for their help
    • Slight adjustments to wording for next year’s award will be submitted to board
    • Awards ceremony will potentially be the close of the conference on zoom
      • Thursday, October 22nd around 5pm

YASF Updates

  • New Incoming manager
    • Will be announced soon, pending library approval!
  • New Incoming Board Members
    • Board Member At Large – Nicole Mills
    • YA Librarian of the Year Award – Kate Kite
  • iREAD
    • 2022 resource guide info will be coming out soon
    • YA Taskforce will be October – April, callout coming soon
      • Taskforce members need to submit 5 ideas of their own, plus editing
    • Theme: “Read Beyond the Beaten Path”
  • Youth Services Forum Update
    • Stories and Spirits is going to happen on Tuesday of ILA via zoom
    • Joe moved from kahoot to crowdpurr for trivia, possibly for ILA event?


  • Programming Success/Failures
    • Tracey had 23 kids at their Not My Talent Show on zoom! Also doing make and take crafts
    • Billie normally has 10-12 participants for college programming – Choosing the College That’s Right For You, virtual attendance was 88 with 3-4 people watching in each house
    • Joe usually has after-school program with HS students teaching MS tech, virtually has 10-12 participants regularly vs a handful in person 
    • Rachael had teen volunteers who wanted to put together a book club, 12 teens each time reading a couple chapters at a time with their 3rd meeting coming up
      • Volunteering is going really well – 100+ sign ups, 60 completed at least 1 hour, driven by teen interest because the application was like a survey
    • Heather is also getting a good response with teen volunteers, normally have 80 teen volunteers in the summer and have about 50 participating from home
      • Monday craft giveaways, 30 sign ups
      • Using Book Depot to buy cheap books in bulk
      • Kids response to programming has been low (virtual storytime, etc)
    • Evan’s FanCon went from one day to full weekend virtually – live stream of classic games, scavenger hunts, panels of video game designers, passive crafts (over 1,000 kits of supplies picked up)
    • Evan’s Inklings creative writing club has been really successful virtually with an author visit – Kim Oclon, highly recommended as a former English teacher worked well with teens
    • Evan has 14th annual Teen Film Fest, stay at home challenge, 9 films submitted and zoom webinar to show movies and announce judging
    • Donna is doing paint along programs with teens, paint kits from easy tutorials, all meet on zoom, recommends this youtube tutorial
    • Donna also doing theater programming on zoom
    • Joe recommends Shane Rotkis with Imagine Arts providing kits and doing classes
    • Joe’s Hackathon went virtual, 205 participants, 135 active people on discord, 61 projects submitted, used
    • Lisa set up a tournament for Super Smash Bros on steam
      • Finds discord to be a good continuation of conversations from programming, keeping them engaged between meetings, especially helpful in growing Anime Club
    • Susan is starting an Art & Equality program series with local artists on zoom and also using Jason Reynold’s Stamped as a connecting book discussion
  • YA development opportunities?
  • ILA
    • Program planning is ongoing, log in to the Speaker Center to see assigned times
    • Surveys
      • Draft
      • Plan to add a drop down menu for programs instead of typing in the name
  • The #WeWereHere Project 
    • 25 community partners
      • 24 libraries (one from New Jersey!)
      • 1 school
    • 10 teen experiences logged
    • Have you joined? Project Portal has been updated, please revisit! Email with more info for libraries to share is on the Project Portal. Currently working on updating the confirmation email for Project Portal with more instructions for use.

Open Discussion

  • “Meeting @ ILA”? 
    • TBD zoom during non-program time 
  • Lisa asking about good homeschool resources
    • Scholastic At Home database purchased by Homer for $1,100 for the year
    • Gale Courses has SAT/ACT prep classes for 6-8 weeks as part of it
    • OLPL getting Brainfuse which is live tutoring plus some resume building and SAT/ACT help

Future Professional Development

  • ILA – Oct 20-22 (Virtual)
  • YALSA Symposium – Nov 6-8 (Virtual)

Upcoming Virtual Meetings

  • September 10th

Let the Tournament Commence!

By Board Member At-Large Martha Sullivan

Nominations for this year’s Tournament of Books is underway, and we’ve already seen a bunch of great nominations! We wanted to take a moment to highlight some of these great titles, so that we can all check them out before voting rolls around. Here is a complete list of titles nominated through mid-summer:

Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis
The Betrothed by Kiera Cass
Blood Countess
by Lana Popovic
by Kate Messner
The Circus Rose
by Betsy Cornwell
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
Don’t Read the Comments
by Eric Smith
Dress Coded
by Carrie Firestone
Felix Ever After
by Kacen Callender
Ink in the Blood by Kim Smejkal
Layoverland by Gabby Noone
The Life and (Medieval) Time of Kit Sweetly by Jamie Pacton
Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know
by Samira Ahmed
Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles
Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales
When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey
When You Were Everything
by Ashley Woodfolk
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Some great titles here already! To help you out a little, we wanted to highlight some authors and titles that may not be on your radar already.


Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

Kacen Callendar is an award-winning author of Middle Grade, young adult, and adult fiction, and his newest novel centers the experience of a black, trans, and queer teen. While the story itself is painfully timely (Felix, our eponymous protagonist, struggles with his identity and self-worth while dealing with a deadnaming transphobe and a catfishing web of his own making), the book is also beautifully written and a lovely exploration of hope, love, and personal values.



layoverlandLayoverland by Gabby Noone

Layoverland is a book that looks at morality and death, and still makes you laugh while grappling with some heavy questions. Bea, our protagonist (sort of) is trapped in Purgatory after a fatal car crash. To earn her way into Heaven, she has to help other lost souls pass on to their afterlives – including Caleb, the boy who caused her crash. From fantastic descriptions of Purgatory (it’s an airport and all the food is Jello) to a stealthily touching depiction of sisterly love, Gabby Noone’s debut YA novel.



notsopureNot So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles

Lamar Giles’ most recent YA novel is an Indie Next List Pick, and it is a banger. The story centers on Del, a teen who inadvertently finds himself signing up for a Purity Pledge at the behest of the girl he’s been crushing on for ages. Del’s relationship with Kiera, his dream girl; Jameer, a fellow Pledger; and the church group eagerly hanging on his every word about sex create a narrative landscape that is funny, touching, and ultimately a satisfying take-down of toxic masculinity and the double standards of society on teen boys and girls.



onlymopstlyOnly Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales

Gonzales’ debut YA novel is about what happens after that summer romance, when you have to go back to real life (and also high school). Ollie, the protagonist, has a dreamy summer fling with Will, who ghosts him after summer ends. Which on its own would be hard to deal with, but when Ollie suddenly has to move cross-country and transfer to Will’s school, he discovers that in the real world, Will is not only kind of a jerk, he’s also closeted. From that description, one might be ready to write Will off – but Gonzales does an excellent job of making both boys rich, complicated, and emotional. This is a book full of people to root for.


youshouldseeYou Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

The debut YA novel from Johnson is about class, race, love, and that mainstay of high school literature, prom. Liz Lightly, our protagonist, decides to run for prom queen in order to re-secure financial aid so that she can go to college, even though she would rather do literally anything else. You Should See Me in a Crown has all of the typical prom story tropes – a mean girl, an unexpected romance, catty competition – but is told from a different perspective, and from an unwilling participant. This book is about bullying, secrets, and friendship, and navigating the rigidly heteronormative structures of high school as a black and queer girl.

Stay tuned for more highlights!



June 11, 2020 Meeting

06.11.20 Meeting Minutes

Manager:  Joe Marcantonio (Schaumburg)
Incoming Manager:  Izabel Gronski (Oak Lawn)
YASF Board Members: Quinn Stitt (Berwyn), Martha Sullivan (Geneva), Kylie Peters (Geneva), Tracey Vittorio (Plainfield)
Virtual Attendance: , Evan (Arlington Heights), Donna (Niles), Haley (Oswego), Nicole (Glenview), Heather (Homer Township)

Approval of minutes

Board Updates

  • Social Media Manager – Kylie Peters
    • 57 people on Discord , 234 members on Facebook, 149 followers on Twitter
    • Only board members are now admin on fb, google groups, and wordpress
    • Anyone who wrote a post for the blog is now a contributor and board members are authors
    • Kylie and Iza will follow up on the chat hour hashtag idea
  • Tournament of Books Wizard – Quinn Stitt
  • YA Librarian of the Year Award Committee Head – Tracey Vittorio
    • Nominations just received, sub committee needs to decide by the end of the month, meeting next Friday, prepare a press release and get a hi res photo
  • Member @ Large – Martha Sullivan
    • Martha working on TOB form and title highlights for social media since new poll is a Google form instead of a FB poll

YASF Updates

  • iREAD – Heather Colby
    • Nothing for now, meeting in July
  • Youth Services Forum Update


  • The #WeWereHere Project 
    • Get your teens their volunteer/service hours
      • Teens submitting can add contributors/partners for group project
    • Please let Joe or Kylie know if there are any errors on the website
    • Content needed for a library resource page: How to create entries for the project, promotional documentation, a press release template for libraries, etc.
      • If you have any ideas for the resource page, please contact Joe or Kylie
    • Fill out the “Partner Registration” form to add your library to the project
    • Start promoting it to your teens!
    • Working on a better logo… if you have ideas, talk to Joe or Kylie
  • Library Reopening Plans
    • Curbside pickup programming kits?
      • Berwyn and Arlington Heights among others are doing kits
    • Public admission?
      • Many libraries think they will reopen with limited access end of June/beginning of July
    • Yvette shared details about CPL’s reopening here

Open Discussion

  • Martha and Haley had a great turnout for virtual dnd
  • Tracey had her first meeting of Not My Talent Show
  • Quinn, Cyndi and Rachel are presenting on Teen RA for RAILS

Future Professional Development

  • ILA – Oct 20-22 (Virtual)
  • YALSA Symposium – Nov 6-8 (Virtual)

Upcoming Meetings – all meetings will be virtual until further notice

  • August 13th
  • September 10th 

May 14, 2020 Meeting

05.14.20 Meeting Mintues

Manager:  Joe Marcantonio (Schaumburg)
Incoming Manager:  Izabel Gronski (Oak Lawn)
Outgoing Manager: Lisa Barefield (Wheaton)
YASF Board Members: Quinn Stitt (Berwyn), Martha Sullivan (Geneva), Kylie Peters (Geneva), Tracey Vittorio (Plainfield)
Virtual Attendance: Rachael B. & Laurel (Skokie), Evan (Arlington Heights), Krista (Wilmette)  Nicole (Glenview), , Cindy (White Oak – Romeoville), Yvette (CPL), Kate (Six Mile Regional Library), Beck (Elmwood Park), Heather (Homer Township), Erin (Orland Park), Stephen (Oak Park)
ILA Staff Liaison: Cyndi Robinson

Board Updates

  • Social Media Manager – Kylie Peters
    • The usual chatting on Facebook (231 members), Twitter (130 followers), Discord (51 members)
    • Chat hour with hashtag on twitter? Kylie to talk with Iza
  • YA Librarian of the Year Award Committee Head – Tracey Vittorio
    • Nomination deadline extended to May 29th, nominate people!!!!
    • If you nominated someone last year, you can resubmit just let ILA know
  • Tournament of Books Wizard – Quinn Stitt
    • Joe & Quinn to send out NF list
    • Quinn to create Google Form to submit titles, consider FB poll for limited time at the end of the year
    • Martha to help with organization and aggregating popular titles for SM posts
  • Member @ Large – Martha Sullivan
  • Other: WordPress, FB, Google Group access will be reviewed so only current board members are admins

YASF Updates

  • iREAD – Heather Colby
    • In between time! 2022 process will start soon
  • Youth Services Forum Update
  • Teen Pandemic Project
    • Teens (ages 12-19) create projects around one of three popular health related hashtags #stayhome #safehands #flattenthecurve during the COVID-19 pandemic.  
    • Libraries have the option to host contests for their library’s teens and all projects are submitted to a wider state level contest hosted on ILA’s site
  • Interest Form for Incoming Manager
    • Please fill it in so we don’t have to cajole people!


  • Blog/Website update
    • Board will organize via email to transition some static content from WordPress to our ILA Forum page. 
  • Discord/Roll20 Feedback
  • Program attendance/feedback
    • Evan is mainly using Zoom for programming
    • Many libraries are using Discord as a virtual teen space
  • Library Reopen Plans
    • Curbside Pickup
      • Schaumburg is getting storage pods for quarantine
      • Wheaton & Berwyn are only doing curbside returns for now
      • Wilmette is planning contactless pickup of holds but no returns
      • Oak Park is allowing holds to be picked up starting June 1
    • Staff in building precautions
      • Schaumburg is letting staff in the building, but only on a voluntary/necessary basis
      • Homer Township is coming up with talking points for staff if patrons are upset and planning to split up into three teams for working in the building. 
      • Elwood Park is also making teams for working in the building, only 10 staff at a time.
    • Patron access
      • Schaumburg is also planning to have dedicated entrance and dedicated exit for patrons and staff
    • Teen Rooms
      • Oak Park is not opening spaces for patron use until phase 5
      • Plainfield will not open YS dept (lower level) until later phases
      • Wheaton also only having their main floor open, staff will retrieve materials from YS or NF for patrons
      • Many libraries are planning kits of craft (and other) materials with video instructions
        • Berwyn and Elmwood are also planning book match kits/boxes
      • Wheaton is giving digital gift cards to their local bookstore with a suggested book list, Plainfield is doing a charity donation, no prizes, Schaumburg all digital gift cards
      • Orland is only doing craft kits for little kids. And we are doing seed packets, and free books for kids and teens. I’m not sure how it will be done while keeping distance. There is also a digital raffle for prizes but patrons who win will still have to come in to pick them up.
  • ILA Conference Update
    • Virtual conference this year, not a lot of details yet. Survey will be going out soon about virtual conferences and priorities. Unconference may be before the official dates, still tbd Oct 20-22
    • YALSA Symposium is also going virtual, Nov 6-8

Open Discussion

  • Share something positive that you or your library is doing
    • Plainfield had virtual Jackbox trivia, 10 teens attended!!!!
    • Geneva’s outreach manager came up with a volunteer activity for teens to create mini research papers about fun stuff, create a video that goes to senior centers
    • Oak Park partnered with schools to do a virtual talent show in September
      • Plainfield doing “that’s not my talent” show this summer, learn something new and teach it
    • Homer staff are creating encouraging messages to share with community
    • Arlington Heights Inkling Creative Writing Club is thriving online
      • Also starting up Volunteer in Place on Beanstack
    • Reminder: Spreadsheet with virtual volunteering opportunities: edit and add yours
    • Glenview is giving teens and tweens a free kit from Pinot’s Palette to paint at home and submit a photo via email
  • YouMedia Community of Practice meeting about reopening, notes available here: 
    • Google Spreadsheet in the notes with reopening plans

Upcoming YASF Virtual Meetings

June 11th
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 851 0042 0450
Password: 403615
Dial by your location
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)

April 09, 2020 Meeting

04.09.2020 Meeting Minutes

Manager:  Joe Marcantonio (Schaumburg)
Incoming Manager:  Izabel Gronski (Oak Lawn)
Outgoing Manager: Lisa Barefield (Wheaton)

YASF Board Members: Quinn Stitt (Berwyn), Martha Sullivan (Geneva), Kylie Peters (Geneva), Tracey Vittorio (Plainfield)

Virtual Attendance: Rachael B. & Laurel (Skokie), Emma (McHenry), Evan & Alice (Arlington Heights), Donna (Niles), Krista (Wilmette)  Nicole (Glenview), Angela (Aurora), Cassie (Crete), Sonya (ELA), Liz (Addison), Cindy (White Oak – Romeoville), Yvette (CPL), Kate (Six Mile Regional Library), Rachel S. (Glenside PL), Regina (Forest Park), Christine (Batavia), Beck (Elmwood Park)

ILA Staff Liaison: Cyndi Robinson

If anything is misattributed or needs clarification/correction, please email Izabel!

*Please reach out to people for follow-up questions! If you can’t find an email on the library’s website, try the Facebook or Google Groups.

*Permalink to join the YASF experimental Discord

Board Updates

  • Social Media Manager – Kylie Peters
    • Nothing to report, the usual chatting on Facebook (229 members), ToB on Twitter (131 followers)
  • YA Librarian of the Year Award Committee Head – Tracey Vittorio
    • Nominations still due May 15th
    • Committee members to meet by the end of May to discuss
  • Tournament of Books Wizard – Quinn Stitt
    • WINNER: Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay
    • PEOPLE’S CHOICE: With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
    • HONOR BOOKS: Dig by A.S. King and Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby (top wish to be in the tournament that were not)

YASF Updates

  • February Professional Development Meeting
    • People thought the topics were engaging, loved having two topics for the price (free!!) of one, generally positive feedback overall.
    • Next topic – TBD
      • Look for repeat/supplemental to ILA presentations
  • C2E2 
    • ALA Graphic Novels & Comics Roundtable has recaps of some panels on Twitter, with links to some presentations @Libcomix 
    • Recommended to go and cosplay if you can!

Fall Meetings & Professional Development

  • ILA
    • Proposals
      • ILA is preparing if the conference needs to be virtual
      • If you submitted, think about including virtual programming
    • Evaluations
    • Live Tweeting 
      • Will be recruiting closer to the conference
  • Readers Advisory Professional Development Meeting
    • Tabled for now
    • Maybe switch gears to virtual programming (including virtual RA)
      • Wait for an expert in the fall or just conversation now?
    • Tangent – Reaching Forward Fridays 
      • Reaching Forward was canceled, but many presenters agreed to do live webinar format, will also be on YouTube later

Library Closure Plans

  • Programming
    • Use Forum to post stealable programming (join here)
    • Post your linkable content in the Forum/on FB for other librarians!
    • Joe (Schaumburg) has a weekly cooking show, QuaranTeened Cooking Show on Fridays at 3pm that is pre-recorded, simple cooking, posted on YouTube
      • Pro tips: Live comes out choppy, pre-recorded is better, they are using Communico to watch live, plus have recorded content, counting views for one month
    • Evan (Arlington Heights) is hosting roleplaying games on Roll20 up to twice a week, will offer a mini-webinar in a couple weeks to teach teens to run their own games. Other activities include a creative writing club on Zoom and working on a puzzle together on Zoom.
      • Share a screen for collaborative black out poetry
      • Issues with Netflix Party because you can’t kick people out and everyone needs to have a Netflix account
      • Also using
    • Donna (Niles) is doing weekly live chats with teens that started on Instagram Live and is moving to Zoom, also creating a Discord. Donna also has experience using Communico for virtual programming calendars, posting and Lynda Barry’s comic exercises, still doing annual poetry contest but submissions are digital. Donna also tried using Kosmi as a Discord alternative.
    • Sonya (ELA) started just before the stay at home order and doesn’t know any teens yet! Sonya thought of planning a virtual prom, but some schools might host prom over the summer. Sonya is working on getting some social media started to let teens get to know her. Donna suggested contacting schools, school librarians and teachers.
    • Emma (McHenry) started a discord for the queer teen group at the library. Emma is also handing out meals from the Northern Illinois food banks along with take home craft kits.
    • Regina (Forest Park) is working on anime club using discord, Nailed It challenge using YA staff, and working on a “How to talk teen” video.
    • Rachel (Glenside) is creating reader’s advisory videos that double as “this is how you use hoopla/overdrive and find things” and is organizing virtual panels of 4-6 authors each that will be recorded and posted to the library youtube channel
    • Izabel (Oak Lawn) is planning a virtual anime club on Google Meet (business version of GoogleHangouts) using Crunchyroll. A Premium library account includes public viewing rights.
    • Rachael (Skokie) can only use Kanopy for movie watching
      • Quinn (Berwyn) also has to use library resources/databases for programming
    • Tracey (Plainfield) is planning a virtual mario kart tournament that is set up on Switch for a specific time and date, running a virtual art contest through instagram, and working on transitioning an end of April fandom event to virtual.
    • Liz (Addison) is having Mark Anderson do live cartooning classes and starting a discord as well
  • Volunteering
    • Spreadsheet with virtual volunteering opportunities: edit and add yours
    • Regina (Forest Park) is offering virtual service hours for reviews, playlists, crafts, instructional videos
    • Quinn (Berwyn) is also offering virtual service hours using Students Rebuild and hours for submitting content and reviews via email for the teen blog where they highlight teen created content. They also had volunteer kits that were to be distributed to make toys for animal shelters to be returned when reopened, but distribution didn’t work out.
    • Tracey (Plainfield) is also using Students Rebuild, offering up to 10 hours. Tracey is also having a Zoom TAB meeting next week.
    • Rachael (Skokie) is using Zoom for service council to work on service projects, recording book talks to give to librarians for summer reading books, and publicized the opportunity to do wellness checks on seniors/delivery groceries through State Sen. Ram Villivalam’s office. 
    • Cindy (White Oak) is also offering hours for reviews
    • Martha (Geneva) is also giving hours for participating in virtual reading program, earning badges, and writing book reviews
  • Outreach – Schools
    • Book clubs at schools on Zoom (Martha, Lisa, Donna, and Izabel have done this)
    • Wheaton opened up library cards to all students regardless of living in the district
    • Liz (Addison) got the schools to unblock the library’s Youtube on their Chromebooks
    • Quinn (Berwyn) is refilling little free libraries in lieu of giving out books to schools
    • Kylie (Geneva) was able to respond to a school request for 100 copies of Trash by Andy Mulligan and negotiate a price cap on Overdrive
  • Outreach – Community
    • Regina (Forest Park) reached out to community groups for things teens can do from home but most just have amazon wish lists
  • Summer Reading Programs
    • Krista (Wilmette) put a teen title on her AS department’s Goodreads book club, but no interaction yet
    • Rachel (Glenside) and Izabel (Oak Lawn) SRP has been pushed to start July 1st.
    • Joe (Schaumburg) wanted to do a museum scavenger hunt, so now it might be virtual. Normally, 87 teens sign up for volunteer squad, but that probably won’t happen.
    • Nicole (Glenview) is looking at all virtual prizes using Beanstack
    • Izabel (Oak Lawn) will have no in person programming through the summer, but working on something for volunteers to do, tbd
    • Christine (Batavia) used to go all over to local vendors for prizes each spring, so that will be revamped by their YS dept since they have the most participants. Working on virtual alternatives for May programming and suspects June will be the same
    • Regina (Forest Park) is moving to a wellness focus for SRP using Beanstack
    • Alice (Arlington Heights) will not have a SRP desk this year, so teens won’t be working it, and is trying to think of ways to do smaller groups. Maybe, teen ambassadors to get teens to stay at home?
      • More info on Stay at Home Contest below
    • Yvette (CPL) is still having about 100 Summer Interns placed throughout all library branches and departments. They assist with meal/snack distribution for our partnership with the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
    • Kylie (Geneva) asked if teens will participate without prizes, Regina (Forest Park) says yes!

Open Discussion

  • Stay at Home Contest for Teens!
    • This discussion generated a lot of ideas so Joe & Kylie are working on an ILA affiliated contest to be pushed out to your library (or not). Some of the ideas discussed included making stay at home tik toks (h/t Evan), chalk art to stay home (h/t Sonya), documenting empty streets and weird six-foot distancing signs (h/t Christine)
  • Yvette (CPL) attended the Library Collective conference in Knoxville, which was entirely focused on D&D (using it for staff onboarding, training, etc) and she shared her notes
  • Liz (Addison) and others expressed concern about teens caretaking siblings, domestic violence on the rise, etc
  • Regina (Forest Park) had many words of wisdom to share, most importantly that there is a lot of information, but not inspiration for teens! Try to stay upbeat in promotions so as not to add to frustrations at these times. Teens are also experiencing a lot of grief right now – some were about to graduate, go to prom, they’re used to being with their friends all the time and it’s all lost now! Adults may say these things are not important, or suggest that younger kids are more important (homeschooling, care, etc), but teens are important, too! 
    • She suggested modifying babysitting programs, including tips for entertaining kids and reaching out to school based health centers for suicide prevention and awareness.
  • Rachael (Skokie) shared info about a talk line

Future Professional Development

  • ILA – Oct 20-22
  • YALSA Symposium – Nov 6-8

Upcoming Meetings

  • May 14th 10am – Virtual Open Board Meeting
  • September 10 @ Oswego Public Library District (Oswego Campus)

2020 Tournament of Books Final Round

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for…32 have been narrowed down to 2 and now it’s YOUR turn to vote! Here’s what you’ll be choosing between for the Overall Tournament winner:

And here’s what you’ll be choosing between for the People’s Choice winner:

Cast your vote by following this link by April 8th! May the odds be ever in your favorite’s favor!

Round IV, Bracket II: Sorcery of Thorns vs. Slay

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

On the surface, Sorcery of Thorns seems like just another YA fantasy novel. And in some ways, it is. At its center, there is a girl with unknown powers, a brooding love interest, an evil man hiding in plain sight, and a demon who is clearly experiencing more than demonic emotion. What makes Sorcery of Thorns special is its dedication to its world and magic system. Margaret Rogerson has taken the tropes of young adult fantasy and placed them into a unique and fresh-feeling setting. 

Elisabeth Scrivener is an apprentice in one of the Great Libraries, running through the stacks of grimoires that raised her from the time she was dropped on the library’s steps as a baby. In a world where librarians guard magical knowledge and sorcerers are the patrons, grimoires rustle, sing, murmur, and have the ability to become monsters if provoked. A sorcerer can only become such with the help of a demonic servant. 

As tragedy strikes and Elisabeth leaves the comforting confines of the only home she’s ever known, the world opens up to both her and the reader. The year is 1824, and the reader is treated to a lovely reimagining of a world teeming with magic. The cities are full of political and magical intrigue, as sorcerers make up much of the ruling class. Elisabeth’s learned assumptions and beliefs about magic and sorcerers are challenged as she slowly befriends Nathaniel Thorn, the heir to a family of necromancers, and his demonic servant Silas. 

One of Rogerson’s talents resides in the way she has built the book’s atmosphere. Rather than overexplaining, she lets the settings and details unfold slowly, keeping the reader engaged and curious. The magic doesn’t overwhelm the story, and the inclusion of demons is an excellent extended metaphor: each sorcerer is literally followed by his or her demons. The characters are complex and believable, each bringing something different to the story, and none of them feeling like cookie-cutter characters. Seasoned YA fantasy readers will relish in Rogerson’s attention to detail and beautiful writing, as well as the slow-burn romance between Elisabeth and Nathaniel that burgeons throughout the book’s 453 pages. Fans of richly imagined fantasy worlds like those in Leigh Bardugo’s work will find a similar feeling here.

There is also the inclusion of casual diversity in sexuality and race, which can be incredibly important for young readers to see. I also appreciate that though the main characters of the books are teenagers with adult responsibilities, they still act and think like teens in many ways. I think teens will see themselves in Elisabeth’s anxieties and feelings, as well as in Nathaniel’s. The book does start a little slow, which may be something to warn teens about, but once the reader is hooked, they’re in for good. 

Non-Book Readalikes: If you like the sorcerer and grimoire-filled anime Black Clover, you’ll love Sorcery of Thorns.

Slay by Brittney Morris

By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, a math tutor, and one of the only Black kids at Jefferson Academy. But at home, she joins hundreds of thousands of Black gamers who duel worldwide as Nubian personas in the secret multiplayer online role-playing card game, SLAY. No one knows Kiera is the game developer, not her friends, her family, not even her boyfriend, Malcolm, who believes video games are partially responsible for the “downfall of the Black man.”

But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, news of the game reaches mainstream media, and SLAY is labeled a racist, exclusionist, violent hub for thugs and criminals. Even worse, an anonymous troll infiltrates the game, threatening to sue Kiera for “anti-white discrimination.”

Driven to save the only world in which she can be herself, Kiera must preserve her secret identity and harness what it means to be unapologetically Black in a world intimidated by Blackness. But can she protect her game without losing herself in the process?

Slay is a conceptually ambitious novel. For fans of The Hate U Give, Black Panther, and VR/MMORPGs, the book will be an easy sell. The book follows teenage game developer Keira as she navigates the frightening reality of a young boy’s death being directly linked to her game, trying to keep herself from being doxxed, and dealing with her white friends acting as though she’s the sole voice of all Black people. Slay deals with some extremely heavy topics, and Keira ultimately handles the situation with the grace and maturity of an adult – which is where we come to an impasse. Many of these characters don’t read like teens. As a white adult woman, I know that this book was not written for me. I know that many young Black girls may find much that resonates with them in this novel, which is why it’s an important one. However, the way Morris has written this book leaves much to be desired. 

I found there to be a big issue with both the writing style and pacing in the novel. Without giving too much away, there are many high-stakes problems presented in the novel without equal emotional stakes. So much is glossed over and so quickly resolved that the reader doesn’t really get the chance to latch on to what’s happening. The death of the player “Anubis,” aka Jamal, doesn’t feel like a concrete part of the book, even though it’s essentially the catalyst for the entire plot. The concept of SLAY (Black people from across the diaspora coming together to celebrate their culture) is an incredible one, and what it does include is highly referential and clever. But I also think that many die-hard gamers will find both the worldbuilding and the plausibility of the mechanics of Keira’s game lacking, and even frustrating. If a teen came to this book hoping for an immersive experience, they wouldn’t get it. The writing, too, is somewhat bland, and though the book is quick-paced, I disagree that it’s action-packed: much of the book’s action happens in quick bursts that are surrounded by chapters containing a lot of telling, and little showing.

When I said the book was conceptually ambitious, I meant that Morris tried to include so many aspects of the socio-political landscape that Black people face today – including Black Lives Matter, neo-nazis, racism in the gaming world, hotepery, respectability politics, misogyny, etc. – that the book feels slightly more like a primer on woke culture than a novel. The dialogue often does not feel natural, feeling rather more like sitting in a cultural studies classroom in college than a high school lunchroom. This is not to say at all that this information and discourse doesn’t belong in YA novels; on the contrary, the growing prevalence of #OwnVoices books and complexly drawn situations and characters is something to celebrate. But the information is presented in such a way that it makes me wonder about its intended audience. 

In general, American teens are intelligent, more politically involved than ever, and incredibly outspoken. At the same time, it’s difficult to know what kinds of things teen readers are internalizing online, in their social spaces, and from their families. For Black teens (and likely many readers in their 20s), this book could certainly resonate and provide a sense of solidarity and comfort, especially because so many Black teens are facing many of these issues every day of their lives. For non-Black teens, I worry about the danger of some of them coming away with this book with biases more firmly entrenched in prejudice, or a confused sense of what is and what isn’t in Black culture. As Keira so often states in the book, Black people (like any marginalized group) are not a monolith, and the experiences and opinions of those within its circles will vary wildly from one community to the next. I want this book to be available to the right teens. But ultimately, Slay spreads itself too thin and the book’s resolution fails to empower its characters in light of the high stakes set up by its premise. 

Non-Book Readalikes: If you like the aesthetic, action, and complexity of the Black Panther movie, you’ll love the VR world of Slay.

The Winner: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

The winner of this round is Sorcery of Thorns. These books are incredibly different and were very difficult to review up against each other, and I think Slay is great for the right reader. Additionally, I would encourage teen services staff to seek out a variety of reviews about Slay. But Sorcery of Thorns is a beautifully written, rich novel that will capture the heart of any fantasy reader and any lover of books!

Mariel Fechik is a Teen Services Advisor at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library. She is a musician, a poet, and a lover of YA lit. 

Round IV, Bracket I: With the Fire On High vs. Patron Saints of Nothing

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

From the New York Times bestselling author of the National Book Award winning The Poet X comes a dazzling novel in prose about a girl with talent, pride, and a drive to feed the soul that keeps her fire burning bright.

Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.

Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.

Teenagers would relate to this overall story, as it is the beginning of senior year and everyone needs to choose an elective that interests them and it is the time of their life when they have to decide what comes next. Emoni is having a hard time deciding on her elective; should she go the safe route and choose study hall to allow her extra time to complete assignments, or follow her heart and explore a cooking class which leads to a trip to Spain?  Not every road leads to college, and not everyone has the same opportunities or interests. Emoni also has responsibility to her daughter and her grandmother. 

The writing is appealing, with short chapters to keep the reader’s attention. and it broadens your world to Philadelphia, Puerto Rico, and Spain. Emoni is a strong character who grows throughout the book, and she is surrounded by characters who love and support her, and many times think more of her than she does of herself. I would recommend this book to students who feel like they are always fighting to catch up or get ahead. In the end, Emoni believes in herself and realizes with hard work and compromise, her dreams can come true.

Non-Book Readalikes: If you liked the TV Show The Secret Life of American Teenager, then read With the Fire on High.

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

A powerful coming-of-age story about grief, guilt, and the risks a Filipino-American teenager takes to uncover the truth about his cousin’s murder.

Jay Reguero plans to spend the last semester of his senior year playing video games before heading to the University of Michigan in the fall. But when he discovers that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President Duterte’s war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to find out the real story.

Hoping to uncover more about Jun and the events that led to his death, Jay is forced to reckon with the many sides of his cousin before he can face the whole horrible truth — and the part he played in it.

As gripping as it is lyrical, Patron Saints of Nothing is a page-turning portrayal of the struggle to reconcile faith, family, and immigrant identity.

This book opens with Jay coasting through senior year and like most seniors, he does not see outside their own world. Jay is “hanging” with his best friend, after which he comes home to his cushy house where he lives with both parents who work in the medical profession; Jay’s life changes that night, when he learns of his cousin Jun’s death. He reacts and begins to take a closer look into the drug war that is taking place in the Philippines and the control the government has. Instead of “wasting” his spring break playing video games with his best friend, Jason chooses to travel to the Philippines and find out how his cousin really died.

The story introduces the reader to the problems going on in other parts of the world, opening their eyes to the world and problems elsewhere. The characters are very strong, and the book accurately represents cultures as well as conflict that might arise between multi-generational and biracial families. A key lesson in the book is “do not judge someone until you walk in their shoes.” I would recommend this to loners and students that are interested in the world, around them as well as those interested in exploring injustices. 

Non-Book Readalikes: If you like The Fosters, Good Trouble, or the new Party of Five Television Series, you will love Patron Saints of Nothing.

The Winner: Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

Both books were great! YA readers would be interested and connect to both stories. They both do introduce you to the larger world, and they connect to teenagers dealing with the tough decisions of figuring out what comes next.

In the end, Patron Saints of Nothing comes out ahead. It opens our eyes to the drug war that is taking place currently in the Philippines, and that might influence our future stakeholders to fight to make the world a better place.  The characters experience also prejudice, grief, frustration, and growth, which readers can relate to.

Anne Thompson is the Library Media Specialist at Schrum Memorial Middle School in Calumet City.  She enjoys reading, traveling and warm weather.