About Joe Marcantonio

I've been the Young Adult Librarian at the Plainfield (IL) Public Library since 2006. I received my MLIS from Dominican University in 2009. I love finding and expanding my knowledge as well as others and I have a low tolerance for BS.

Books to programs to books

Why fight it?  Books are libraries brand.  When programming, just go with it.

Programming revolving around books isn’t a new idea.  We’ve been doing it for years, they’re called book discussions.  Take it a step further by turning the content of a book into your program.  The following is a list of books and ideas for programming that go with it.  This list is in no way comprehensive as there is no limit to a librarian’s creativity.

100 Most Disgusting Things on the Planet (Claybourne)

Having trouble getting the boys into the library…fret no more!  The grosser the program the crazier the boys go for it. The book is divided into two sections: disgusting nature and disgusting humans.  Many of the topics from the disgusting nature section can be seen in nature documentaries and online videos.  Have a couple videos queued for display.  For instance the Tarantula Hawk Wasp is shown in this video attacking a tarantula, paralyzing it and dragging it into her hole where she will lay her eggs on it allowing her babies a fresh food supply when they hatch.  The spider is alive the whole time.  My favorite chapter in the disgusting humans section is on “Civet Coffee” (Kopi Luwak) which is made from the coffee beans of the fruit that the Civet Cat eats.  After passing the coffee beans they are collected and ground into coffee at the price of $160 a pound or up to $80 a cup in a cafe.  Ahh, to be rich and drink sh…  Do you know where your coffee comes from?

Bro-Jitsu: The Martial Art of the Sibling Smackdown (Wilson)

OK, so this program might be dangerous.  Correction, this program WILL be dangerous.  Packed with 126 attack, defense, counter-measures, and counter-counter measures, Bro-Jitsu is a survival guide for growing up a sibling.  Treat this class like you would a beginner Yoga class.  Make sure that each participant has their own space (you know, to avoid getting blood on the carpet).  Run them through some of the more fun moves and then release them upon their unsuspecting families.

miniweapons2There are cool books to get idea for programming and then there are awesome books that you just rip-off wholesale and do an entire years worth of programs.  The Mini-Weapons of Mass Destruction is that series.  Our library had a huge hit with our Bad Boys Crafting Club in which we armed the youth of our town and send them on their way.  The projects range from catapults (from Popsicle sticks, rubber bands, and clothes pins) to double-barrel rubber band shooters. After the teens have made the project set up an area with targets for shooting practice.  Be warned that some of these weapons work extremely well.


Young Adult Librarian of the Year Award

Awards season is fast approaching! The Newbery, The Printz, the Oscars, and joining those auspicious ranks comes the Illinois Library Association’s Young Adult Librarian of the Year Award! You have not heard of this award? Well, that is not surprising as this year is the inaugural year. This is the very first time you can honor a Young Adult Librarian with an award from the Illinois Library Association. Don’t miss this opportunity to show your appreciation for the dedicated Young Adult Librarian in your life!

To nominate a Young Adult Librarian for the Young Adult Librarian of the Year Award, visit the ILA Website and click on Awards, or simply follow this link:

Young Adult Librarian of the Year Award

All you need to nominate someone is letters of reference and a one-page summary about why you think the person you are nominating deserves this award.  Award recipients will receive a $200 financial award and a certificate.

Books to Pimp for Teen Tech Week

Back in the day before I earned my MLIS and before I even had a library career I had a LTA class on Readers’ Advisory.  The first day of class the instructor informed us that “when doing Readers Advisory you are not so much advising the reader as you are pimping the books”.  She went on to refer to her job as a “Book Pimp” (let the hilarious mental images ensue).  Now, many years later, using her terminology I give you: “Books to Pimp for Teen Tech Week”.  Going with their theme of “Mix & Mash” this post represents both fiction and non-fiction books that involve teens and technology.  Enjoy!

Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card

Everyone should know this book, but fortunately for us new patrons are being born everyday and they have no idea about this magnificent, thought-provoking series.

Ender Wiggin is a third born child.  This is not unusual now but in the future when population is tightly controlled Ender is special.  Also, Ender at the age of 6 is still being monitored by the government.  Then comes the day that Ender’s parent fear most.  He has been chosen for Battle School (to his older brother’s horror), he is to become a solider and protect the world from the “bugs”.  Seventy years ago the bugs attacked the humans killing us without mercy, until a battle in which the bugs retreated and were never heard from again.

Ender is the youngest and smallest at battle school but it quickly becomes apparent that he is one of the best the school has ever seen.  There is talk by those in power that Ender may be the one to save us from the bugs again, except this time we are bringing the fight to them.

This book has attained classic status in the science fiction and young adult realms due to it’s engaging story and believable characters.  Orson Scott Card has created a world around Ender’s life and the series continues with Ender’s Shadow.  Listening to the audio-book  has it’s perks also (Harlan Ellison makes a guest appearance).

O’Reilly’s Brain-Friendly Guides

Greatest. Guides. EVER! These books are excellent beginner guides to web design, HTML, App Design, Algebra, Physics, and so on.  They are written in an easily digested format and interject humor where ever possible.  They are illustrated and show easy step-by-step instructions.  A very approachable text for teens with a high interest in technology and it’s applications.

Uglies – Scott Westerfeld

Tally Youngblood is going to turn sixteen and all her ugly little problems will go away. Her ugly face, gone. Her ugly body, gone. Her ugly mind, gone especially. When Tally turns sixteen she will be able to get the operation to correct every physical flaw she has. When her best friend turns sixteen and moves to New Pretty Town she figures her life is over until she becomes pretty. That is when she meets Shay who is drastically different than anyone Tally ever met. For starters she doesn’t want to become pretty which the girls will soon find out isn’t really a choice. Follow Tally on this amazing roller coaster of a novel, great for anyone in middle school and up.

The Accidental Billionaires – Ben Mezrich

This book is not a particularly hard sell.  As the inspiration for the movie The Social Network this is the story of Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg.  A billionaire before the age of 25 a concept that will not be lost on teens, “A million dollars isn’t cool, you know what’s cool?  A billion dollars”.  This book is not without controversy though, slammed critically for the authors inability to get an interview with Zuckerberg, his liberal tweaking of the dialogue, and using Zuckerberg’s enemies for his primary source material.  All that aside the book is entertaining, fast-paced, and will be gobbled up high school teens.

Spacer and Rat – Margaret Bechard

Jack (Spacer) is a teen that has spent his entire life in space.  He and the rest of the residents of the Freedom Station refer to the earth dwellers as “rats” due to their destruction of their planet.  Then Kit (Rat) is abandoned by her father on the Freedom Station with her sentient robot, Waldo.  The robot is illegal technology that leads Jack and Kit into more trouble than they bargained for.  By the end Jack and Kit come to an understanding and both have challenged their previously held beliefs.


Teen Cooking: Microwaves and Mugs

Teens love food.  Yes, we all know that but, did you also know that they are quite capable of cooking for themselves…either did their parents.  Cooking programs for teens can be wildly popular as long as you promise them samples at the end.  The problem with cooking programs is the cooking, unless you have a huge staff lounge that doubles as a meeting room (in which case carry on Rick Bayless Public Library).

In a previous post,Teen Programming with Food, we provided fun desserts to make that require no cooking.  This time we’ll explore some awesome options for cooking with that jack-of-all-trades, the microwave.  If your library’s microwave (and I know you have one) cannot be moved into your meeting space, then ask around and I’m willing to bet that someone has one collecting dust in their garage.  Below you’ll find some great microwave recipes that you can make with/for your teens.

Mexi-licious Egg Mug (from Hungry Girl)


  • 2 tbsp. chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute (like Egg Beaters Original)
  • 1/4 cup fat-free refried beans
  • 2 tbsp. canned diced green chilies (not drained)
  • One 6-inch corn tortilla, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 wedge The Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss cheese
  • Optional topping: fat-free sour cream


  • Spray a large microwave-safe mug with nonstick spray. Add onion and microwave for 1 minute, until slightly softened and warm.
  • Pat dry to remove excess moisture. Add egg substitute and gently stir. Microwave for 1 minute.
  • Gently stir. Microwave for 30 seconds, until scramble is mostly set.
  • Gently stir in beans, chilies, tortilla, and cheese wedge, breaking cheese into pieces as you add it.
  • Microwave for about 45 seconds, until hot. Gently stir and, if you like, top with sour cream. Enjoy!



Microwave Cake in a Mug


  • 1 large coffee mug
  • 4 tablespoons plain flour (do not use self-rising)
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
  • Small splash of vanilla
  • chocolate syrup (optional)
  • whipped topping (optional)


  • Add dry ingredients to mug, & mix well .
  • Add egg & mix thoroughly.
  • Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.
  • Add chocolate chips (if using), vanilla, mix again.
  • Set mug in the microwave & cook for 2½ to 3 min (1,000 watts microwave). Cake will rise over the top of the mug.
  • Remove from microwave and allow cake to cool a little, then tip out onto a plate, or leave in mug.
  • Drizzle with chocolate syrup and top with whipped topping, if desired!

Young Adult Action/Adventure Booklist

Remote Control

Heath, Jack.

In the sequel to The Lab, teenage agent Six of Hearts is suspected of being a double agent, which has him on the run from his fellow agents at the Deck while also trying to track down his brother’s kidnappers.

A Conspiracy of Kings

Turner, Megan Whelan.

In this historical fiction/Adventure story Sophos, an unwilling prince, is kidnapped and sold into slavery while trying to save his country from being destroyed by rebellion and exploited by the conniving Mede Empire.


Ship Breaker

Bacigalupi, Paolo.

In a futuristic world, Nailer scavenges copper wiring from grounded oil tankers for a living, but when he finds a beached clipper ship with a girl in the wreckage, he has to decide if he should strip the ship for its wealth or rescue the girl.


Smells Like Dog

Selfors, Suzanne.

When Homer’s explorer-uncle dies he leaves him a droopy dog with a mysterious coin hidden on its collar, it leads him to The City, where they meet Madame, head of the Museum of Natural History, who is trying to steal the coin and take Homer’s place in a secret society of adventurers.


As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth

Perkins, Lynne Rae.

Journeying by train to summer camp only to find that the camp program has been cancelled, Ry finds himself stranded without resources in the wilderness and invents a new definition of summer vacation.


The Grimm Legacy

Shulman, Polly.

After high school student Elizabeth, working as a page, gains access to the Grimm Collection of magical objects, she and the other pages are drawn into a series of frightening adventures involving mythical creatures and stolen goods.


Young Smaurai: The Way of the Warrior

Bradford, Chris.

After he is orphaned by a ninja pirate attack off the coast of Japan in 1611, English lad Jack Fletcher is determined to prove himself when the legendary sword master who rescued him begins training him as a samurai warrior.


Jake Ransom and the Skull King’s Shadow

Rollins, James.

Middle-schooler Jake and his sister Kady are transported by a Mayan artifact to a strange world inhabited by a mix of people from long-lost civilizations who are threatened by prehistoric creatures and an evil alchemist, the Skull King.

Successful Anime Clubs

First volume of 'Death Note' perhaps the most popular manga amongst American teens.

As librarians we wish that there were teens that have a high interest in printed materials, are voracious readers, and don’t think that libraries are lame.  We would bend over backwards to give them what they wanted if only they would ask, however they’re not asking they’re screaming for Manga and Anime!  Often these are the kids that aren’t involved in your typical after school activities and with school budgets unable to maintain art/music/P.E. what chance do they have of joining an Anime/Manga club at school…slim to none and slim just got RIF’d.

Book your Anime/Manga program and be sure to advertise in the middle and high schools.  Once your teens start showing up ask them what they would like to do.  Our anime club usually consists of a craft and a anime series that we show.  Some librarians have had success running the program like a book discussion where each teen brings in their favorite manga and talks about it or does a book talk (watch out for the teens that like to give away the endings).

Thankfully there are organizations that are out there to help us.  One is Operation Anime, the beautiful thing about this website is you register your anime club and have your teens fill out their surveys and they’ll send you a new anime every month.

Glossary (aka what the hell are they saying?)
Anime – short for Japanese Animation, anime refers solely to the animated videos many of which are based on manga.
Bishojo/Bishonen – Japanese for beautiful girl/boy.
Chibi – Japanese for small,short for Child Body, prefix indicating a ‘squashed’ (and usually considerably more manic) version of an anime character.

Cosplay as Vincent Valentine from the Japanese video game 'Final Fantasy VII'

– short for ‘Costume Play’ it is the practice of dressing up as one’s favorite anime or manga character. A popular event at anime conventions.
Hentai – Japanese for ‘pervert’, refers to pornographic material, if something is referred to as Hentai it is not advisable to add this to your library collection.
Mecha – Short for MECHAnical, any kind of technology from a gun to a vehicle to a giant robot.
Manga – small (usually) paperback books written in a comic style. Most manga is serialized in chapters that are published in various Japanese magazines (i.e. ShonenJump)
Manwha – Korean version of manga.
OAV/OVA – Original Animation Video/Original Video Animation; work made specially for release to video, rather than TV or cinema.
Otaku – Japanese word denoting an obsessive fan of anything, in the sense of being narrow and anti-social. Sometimes used in the West without derogatory connotations to refer to a dedicated fan of anime or manga.
Shojo – Japanese for girl. Shojo manga are drawn in a very flowery, pretty, romantic style and deal with mainly romantic or emotional subjects.
Shonen – refers to manga/anime that is geared towards male adolescents, filled with action and usually male characters.
Yaoi – Refers to manga/anime depicting male homosexual relationships.
Yuri – Refers to manga/anime depicting female homosexual relationships.

I put up a poster, why won’t they come?

All of us that work with teens know the joys of trying to get them into programs.  It’s really not because they don’t want to attend but rather that they don’t know (despite the 6 posters they have to walk past every time they’re in the library).  Here are some advertising options that you might try:

1)      Talk to them. Seriously, if you can’t just walk up to a teen patron and tell him/her about a library program what chance do you stand once they’re in the program?  Be extra pro-active and put a flyer in their hand with the date, time, and locale.

2)      Social Networking. That’s where the teens are and by that reasoning so should you.  Create a Facebook fan page for your library’s YA/Teen section.  Every time you post something on your fan page it will appear on each of your “fans” Facebook profile.

3)      Newsletters. The adult departments seem to have great success with advertising programs through the library newsletter; however, sometimes that information does trickle down to the teens.  Have copies of your newsletter in your teen area or at the desk where teens congregate.   We have found that making a “pocket-sized” version of the newsletter with only teen programs serves us well.

4)      Email Blasts. Send constant reminders to your teens, weekly and the day before a program.  Put out an email sign-up sheet at every program and event you hold.  Retaining the teen patrons that do come is just as important as getting new ones.