The Life-Changing Magic of Weeding Kids Books – SEKLS edition

sekls coverBooks come in and go out, just like the tide. Selection and deselection go hand in hand, two important parts of the library life cycle. Thank you so much for spending time with me today discussing one of my favorite topics, weeding! I hope these ideas spark joy for you as you move forward in your library journey. Please, feel free to contact me with questions or suggestions. We’re all on this journey together!


Fall in-service booktalks! 2016 edition

Great to see everyone today at the USD 259 in-service! Here are the slides from my presentation. Please don’t hesitate to call or email, we’d love to help you reach more young readers!
Click here: August 259 in-service booktalks

USD 259 English Language Arts inservice Spring 2016

Here’s the slide deck from my presentation on booktalking… “so teens will BEG to read!” I pulled some old favorites off the bookshelf as well as some new picks and a smattering of adult titles that will pique teen interest. The highlights:house

  • Don’t forget to be passionate about books you personally love, but also be sure to read widely so that you know books that will appeal to teen readers with tastes that differ from yours.
  • Look for series that appeal to readers who get swept away in different worlds… characters that you want to meet again and again… and use them to hook reluctant readers into their own private bookfest!
  • Try something more high tech, like book trailers. Waudby’s One of Us is pretty stylistic and slick, and can help teens imagine the story more vividly before they make a pick.
  • Remember, it doesn’t have to be very long… in fact, you rarely get more than 30 secs. to a minute to really interest teens before they’ve made their decision.
  • Format your talk like a teaser trailer for a movie or TV show. Remember the steps:hunter
    1. HOOK – a shocking statement or fact from the book, something interesting or hilarious to get audience attention.
    2. The protagonist was doing great/doing awful until THIS THING happened to them/around them.
    3. Now, they face THESE TOUGH DECISIONS that make them reevaluate themselves/their family/friends/society/world and decide how to deal…
    4. HOOK ending, or question ending (will K be able to continue with her mission, or will she crumble under the pressure?)
  • The most important thing to remember is have fun, and don’t forget to share your love of reading with your students!

Thanks so much for having me out. It was great to meet everyone and share some of my favorites with you… hope to peek in to your Goodreads group this summer and get some recommendations from YOU next!

Best of 2015 – 259 Inservice

Welcome to my friends at USD 259! I’m happy to be part of your inservice today for both library staff and English faculty. We’ve rustled up titles that have won awards, flown under the radar, and much much more. Check out the slides below for the titles we discussed:

MG booktalks best of 2015 – Copy (Grades 3-5)
MS HS booktalks 2016 best of 2015 – Copy (Grades 6-12)

You’ll notice I’ve included recommended ages/grades from the Big Four review journals in the bottom right of each slide, along with any starred reviews noted. If I couldn’t find a book jacket with the book’s medals affixed, I have tried to remedy that with a medal or logo to the bottom center of the screen. Hopefully I didn’t miss anything!

I hope you and your students enjoy trying some of these titles. Don’t forget – if you want us to come out and talk up summer reading with your students now is a great time to lock us in for dates in April and May. Call or email your nearest branch today!

Check us out! Readers Advisory at the KLA/MLA super conference 2015

We’re super excited to share the wonderful RA track at KLA/MLA with you this year! Check out sessions, handouts, tips, and more at and look up our social media using the tag #rablitz15!ra books

Host a Fun Teen Murder Mystery Party!

Click here to download Homecoming Homicide: A Teen Murder Mystery: (CC BY-NC 4.0)

At least, I like to think they are! One programming concept that has been perennially popular is the MURDER MYSTERY. Everyone likes to play detective, and everyone has a great time pretending to be on a cop show. 

I design these to take about an hour of sleuthing. I know some people are successful at taking a break in the action to allow teens to have snacks and/or listen to the actors do their thing, but I have always had to program these in libraries where few of us could take time out to participate in the program. So what I’ve done here is to allow participants to stay on their desk or to keep working, and to be “discovered” in their area by the teen detectives (who are instructed not to interrupt them if they are assisting other customers!).

You’ll notice a few spelling errors and some other typos – sorry for that. I tried to use all CC licensed clip art; you might substitute something with more local flavor for your teens. I also tell them not to remove evidence, and that only applies to books or materials in the stacks. This specific mystery features a fun clue bag given to the teens, which they can take to the “Police Lab” for discovery. All you have to do is take a paper ream box, cover the inside in dark paper, stick a shadeless lamp in there with a black light bulb for illumination, and tell them to check their liquid Tide-soaked “swabs” for “blood.” Use your imagination! What else might they check with their fake Luminol?!

In other mysteries, I’ve included floral vials in the police file. Dump a little cheap red nail polish in there, and you have a “blood sample.” The props add to the realism and as simple as they are, give the program a little extra wow factor. This one features a crumpled “receipt” pointing out an interesting fact about the glamorous (and dead) Bianca… what other things might have been purchased that could add verisimilitude to your murder mystery?

Feel free to take this and use it as is, put your own spin on things, or use it as a template to write your own murder mystery. Just give me credit and don’t make money with it. I’m licensing it under CC BY-NC 4.0. If you’re a journalist or author and want to quote from it or otherwise reproduce it, please contact me. Otherwise, have fun and get to sleuthing!

NEKLS Innovation Day 2015

My favorite time of year arrived… NEKLS Innovation Day! What a great time for libraries to get together and talk about their favorite technology, innovative services, and glimpse the horizon of our profession. The speakers were all so awesome! My contribution was a session on teen maker projects, and you can find my materials here:

Teen Maker Projects Handout

I brought samples of our fun projects, including some of my duds (hey, at least now you know what happens when you try to use Model Magic for a resin mold!) and encouraged everyone to try some new, fun ideas to make programming STEAM powered. Thanks to all who attended – I hope you’ll send me some pictures of the awesome things you’re doing in your libraries!

Louisiana Public Libraries for Teens!

Hi everyone, you were a phenomenal group to work with on Friday! This is the place where I will be posting links, slides, and exclusive ideas for you to use with your teens as you go together in your youth services journey. I hope they are helpful, and if you have questions or comments – ANYTHING – just reach out:

erindowney AT
@hybridlib on Twitter

Don’t forget what I said to keep talking to each other and networking. Share your successes and talk about missteps – when you talk it out, everyone benefits.

Power Up With Print LA

Notes from Programming and Emerging Tech in the PM

Our AM playlist:
Good Time by Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen
Good Feeling by Flo Rida
Brighter Than the Sun by Colbie Caillat
Dance Apocalyptic by Janelle Monae
Tightrope by Janelle Monae (feat. Big Boi)
You Get What You Give by New Radicals
Starry Eyed Surprise by Paul Oakenfold
Happy by Pharrell Williams
Up Up Up by Givers
Suddenly I See by KT Tunstall
Double Dutch Bus by Raven-Symone
The Middle by Jimmy Eat World
Brokenhearted by Karmin

USD 259 Inservice booktalks 2014

Hi everyone! Thanks so much for having me as a part of your inservice today. It was great to talk about awesome books with all of you! Find below my slides from the presentations:

Special shout out to those who stayed for a second round! Be sure to email me soon if you’d like to book a spring date with your school – I am always excited to share new and awesome books with your students, and tell them all about services at the public library.

KLA booktalks!

We had SO MANY awesome books that we just couldn’t get through them all! I’ll post slides, notes, and links here so you can enjoy these in the comfort of your own home. Click here for my slides and here for my notes!

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