Tell us about Sno-Isle libraries
We are an awesome library system just a bit North of Seattle with 22 locations spread over two counties. I’ve been working here for seven years, and before that I worked at King County and also Chicago Public. My job is to oversee all things teen at a system-wide level. This includes our great teen website, events like Teen Read and Teen Tech Months, trainings for staff, spearheading proposals for shared programming kits and equipment, and generally supporting my Teen Contacts at each location to do the best they can for serving teens. This year has been an exciting one. We are currently working on a GenYZ project with the consultant OrangeBoy Inc. to craft better strategies and services for 13-29 year olds. And we just finalized our brand new Teen Service Purpose Statement which will not only focus and strengthen our services to teens (which we define as 12-18), but expands it to better serve tweens (9-12) and young adults (19-20).
Outside of the wonderful work I get to do for Sno-Isle, I’m also active in YALSA, and have worn many hats for them.
Photo -YALSA fashion show
My favorites were co-planning an amazing Get Graphic @ Your Library graphic novel pre-conference (where I got to meet and introduce Neil Gaiman), chairing the first Great Graphic Novel for Teens committee, serving on the Margaret A. Edwards award committee that honored Francescia Lia Block, and now I’m chairing this year’s Odyssey Award committee.
The Skinny: What do you love most about your work?
My stock answer used to be “working with the teens”, but the sad fact is that I’ve reached a point in my career where to best utilize my experience and abilities to serve teens, I don’t actually get to interact with them all that often. I’m hoping to change this over the next year by implementing a brand new system of teen councils at our libraries, with representatives that will serve on a virtual council that works directly with me. But even if I don’t get the face time with them much anymore, I love that I get to constantly work creatively to connect teens with libraries and all they have to offer…especially books. I served on Spokane Public Library’s Young Adult Advisory Committee (YAAC) back in the 80s under the late great Christy Tyson, and I still cherish the connections I was able to make with library staff and other book loving teens. Thank goodness for Facebook…not only do I still connect with some librarians and other YAAC members through that, but I’m now friends with former teens who were dear to me at previous jobs. More than anything I love the connections I make with individuals: be it teens, library staff, authors, fellow YALSA members…and if we can share a good book, all the better!
A Mighty Librarian Roar!
Human civilization exists largely in information our species has created and shares together to make stories of how the world should be. Storing this information externally (outside our brains) gives us tremendous room for growth and possibility, but it also sets up potential for loss and disconnection if that information is not accessible. Libraries have grown beyond a physical place where information is stored, into a gateway to the world. Library staff don’t just help you find the right book, but help set you on the journey to the place you want to be, and the person you are aspiring to become. And all of this happens because communities believe individual should have this sort of access and assistance, which to me is a very hopeful and beautiful thing.
I was very fortunate early in my days at Sno-Isle to have made a connection Shannon Hale before she hit it big, and was asked by her publisher if I could host her and Libba Bray on their joint tour.
Shannon Hale, Dawn and Libba Bray
[photo from flickr set: keepingfaith]
I worked extra hard to plan a fun even that would be enjoyable for both the authors and the audience, because I love both of these author’s work and wanted to share my excitement with everyone. When they showed up, it turned out all three of us were wearing practically the same outfit…black cardigans, dresses, and black boots. We had so much fun…I still feel lucky to have gotten to know them before they both got huge :D
Pride of Programs
Hmmm. Two of my favorite programs I’ve done are probably Book Buddies and last summer’s pilot of the Sno-Isle Super Summer Scavenganza.
Book Buddies is a program where teens mentor struggling readers in 2nd-4th grade over the summer. It is a wonderful intergenerational program and not only helps kids enjoy reading more and get comfortable doing it, but it is really great for the teens, too! The Scavengana is a two month long online scavenger hunt where teams of teens were given missions each day of the summer, and competed against each other by making videos, writing book reviews, and other creative endeavors.
I really hope to do it again next year, but with some simplifications and tweaks to make it easier to run and participate in! It was one of the most satisfying projects I’ve worked on in a long time. We left everything up on the website, and here are some photo highlights of the teams entries.
Teen Library Scene
To me the best indicators of passion for our libraries are some of the entries for contests our teens have made for us. My personal favorite is Emily B.’s submission from our 2012 art contest (http://www.sno-isle.org/teens/art-contest-winners/), a Harry Potter themed synchronized swim that two sisters made for our Scavenganza last summer, and this infomercial by another Scavenganza team, Dragon Army. That our fans are willing to create such wonderful things for our library community is super exciting to me.
Art Contest Winner Emily B.
Andrew K. - Mill Creek: “One thing I really like about the Sno-Isle teen section, on the website at least, is that it feels like you can contribute to it, i.e. the reviews, which you seem to be the main moderator for! I also enjoy that there are lists by subject matter added and edited once in awhile, and when I was first especially looking for new books before I started using GoodReads, those lists were extremely helpful! I still check back on them once in awhile if some are updated.”
Sophie K. - Arlington: "The founders of our nation believed in self-education-the idea that every single individual ought to learn by reading books and studying the thoughts and ideas of those who have come before them. Can you imagine our nation without libraries where you can accomplish this goal? I know of no better place than a library to explore ideas, rethink your philosophies, entertain different thoughts, and change your mind. Just one person can change the world-and just one library can change a person."
Pic of Teen Advisors
For me, the perfect author visit is one where the readers are super jazzed and have all read the book and have tons of questions for the author. And then the author responds to teens with total respect, humor, and grace. Some of my favorites have included the one I mentioned with Shannon Hale and Libba Bray at the Mountlake Terrace library, when we had Scott Westerfeld at the Edmonds library, a Skype interview Adam Rex did with the teens of the Mukilteo Library, and great guest visits at two different Teen-Adult Book groups I’ve co-run with school libraries: Ben Michaelson at Tillicum Middle School, and Kendare Blake at Brier-Terrace Middle school.
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Thanks again for the terrific interview, Dawn!