Librarian Spotlight: Kirby McCurtis

Kirby works as a children’s librarian at the central San Diego Public Library and serves as the Youth Collection Development Librarian for the entire system. She is extremely active in ALA (she’s running for ALA Council this year) and she writes for the group youth services blog So-Cal Library Connection. Read on to learn all about her career path, some of her favorite programs, what she’s reading, and more!

How long have you been a librarian?
Since 2008

Why did you want to work with teens?
In my first full time librarian postition, with San Diego County Library, I was the Youth Services librarian which meant I served 0-18. I found I had the most fun working with the teens and the youngest kids 0-5. I think working with teens gives you an opportunity to connect with young people at a very interesting and important time in their lives. I also remember when I was a teen, I stopped hanging out at my local public library. I would go to the library at my school, and run into the library with my mom to pick up books, but I didn’t feel like it was my space anymore. And this was a big change for me because during middle school my brother and I would walk to the library every day we didn’t have sports practice to do homework, read, and hang out with our friends. I think most libraries have evolved in 15 years to recognize how important the teen population is, but I know my system has a ways to go before every library has a teen space carved out…I want to be a part of that transformation.

What steps led you to your current position?
I was working at the County and I absolutely loved the community I was working in, loved the system and believed in the library Director and his mission, but I wanted to try some new tasks and work at another location or two. It was my first full time position, and I wanted to get experience with some other aspects of librarianship. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do that at the County, so when the Librarian I list opened with the City I applied. I actually forgot about the application because I became acting Branch Manager in the midst of my first summer reading, and was crazybusy. But I was called for an interview and offered the position at Central Library and I didn’t want to pass up the chance to try something new. As a child, my family and I would drive down to San Diego a couple Saturdays a month and we always visited the Central Library. It was exciting to be able to work in a library where I had such poignant and fond memories.

What has been your favorite library program/project?
The project I am working on now with parenting teens is my favorite hands down. I get to teach teen moms how to read and select materials for their babies. It is the most challenging program I have executed, but I love it and I believe it is worth all the time and energy.

Are there any upcoming programs or events you’re looking forward to?
My library is getting a new building and we are in the process of designing the two youth services wings right now. It is the first time I have been on a design and architecture project, and it’s nice to have a little input.

What is the best part about your job?
Best part of my job is hearing the kids shout “it’s story time” or “it’s the library lady” when I go and do outreach. I don’t think the library is just contained in walls and structure, so anytime I can get out into the community and share my love of reading, is a good time for me. In the storytimes I do with the teen moms, every time one of the teens says “ooh, I like this book” and asks for a copy, I can’t help but want to high five her!

Are you involved with any professional organizations?
I am an active member of ALA, PLA (Public Library Association), Black Caucus of ALA, and NMRT (New Member Round Table). I serve on committees for each, and I enjoy being active in the organization. I am also running for ALA Council this year. I’m a social butterfly and I love meeting new librarians and being a part of the profession.

Do you have any favorite online resources (either for teens or for librarians)?
I am reading blogs constantly, other librarians are so on top of it! I check in regularly with this one, pcsweeney’s blog, agnostic librarian, the unquiet librarian, and 8bitlibrary. I also like twitter to stay in touch and hear about what people are trying that is new and exciting in library land. Because I do Collection Development, I like to check out all the publishers’s sites…most have great teen zones and blogs. I particularly like Random House and Harper Collins. Goodreads is a resource I couldn’t live without. About half of the books on my to-read list, or currently sitting on my kitchen table, came from looking at other librarians YA recommendations.

What are some of your favorite books, series, authors, or genres?
It’s sooo hard to pick favorites! I absolutely LOVE these authors: Ellen Hopkins, Walter Dean Myers, Jacqueline Woodson, Rita Williams-Garcia, Angela Johnson. The Hunger Games series BLEW MY MIND! I don’t know if this is a genre (it is on my Goodreads account) but the YA death and dying books are favorites too, no matter who the author is. Hold Still, If I Stay, and Living Dead Girl were some amazing ones I read last year.

Any other favorite pop culture stuff (movies, TV, music, games)?
LOVE the preternatural stuff & LOVE Glee.

Vampires, werewolves, or zombies?
My sister and I have often had this discussion. Hands down I would want to be a vampire…oh that was totally not the question. Vampires though, for sure.

Librarian Spotlight: Sarah of YA Librarian Tales

Sarah is a young adult librarian in Colorado and blogs at YA Librarian Tales. Read on to learn about how she got into librarianship, hear about some of her amazing teen programs, and see what resources and books she recommends!

How long have you been a librarian?
I received my MLIS in August 2008 and got a full-time, professional job in February 2009. I have worked in libraries most of my life however. I was a shelver during high school, worked at my college library doing various tasks, and then during grad school I was an information assistant at my local library. Now I’m in the big leagues with a true librarian job and I love it!

Why did you want to work with teens?
Kids on the whole annoy me. Adults also annoy me quite a bit but teens… they are always refreshingly different and unique. They can be crude or mean but also totally dorky and funny and they don’t even care. They aren’t afraid to tell me when a program or a book didn’t work, and while it can be hard to hear sometimes, I learn a lot from them. I feel like they, more than any age group, are honest about their emotions still, even as they are trying to blend into a crowd. Plus, I love YA books so that doesn’t hurt either.

What steps led you to your current position?
Well, I was graduating in 2006 with and English and History degree and had no idea what I wanted to do so after an internship at the Minnesota History Center one summer, I decided to apply for grad school in a library and information science program. I had always worked in a library like I mentioned and I do enjoy it. I like helping people, being around books, solving puzzles, and the routine of some of the day to day library tasks. I completed grad school while at the same time working at my local public library. (I LOVE public libraries.) After getting my degree, I applied to teen services positions all across the United States. I have always wanted to live somewhere different and it worked out. In December of 2008 I had several different interviews with various libraries but my current position in Colorado was the job interview that went furthest. They flew me out in January 2009, interviewed me in person, and that same day, as I was flying back to Minnesota, I got the call that they were offering me the job. So in short, lots of hard work got me my current position. And real life work experience in a library. I would have been lost without it.

The teen public services desk at Sarah’s library

What has been your favorite library program/project?
I’ve had several things I really enjoyed. This past summer during the reading club, I tackled tie-dye for the first time and it was so much fun and really popular. Teens love the messy aspects of it as much as the finished product. I also love the “big games” programs I have done: Monopoly, Poker, and Jenga. My volunteers built the jenga blocks out of cardboard and it was so amazing. They spent hours on that project, I barely had to do anything, and then come program time it was a total blast. My library recently held a district teen anime/manga fair which was also a great experience for me since anime and manga are still areas I am learning about all the time. Costumes, Japanese food, crafts, anime, it was a great time.

Are there any upcoming programs or events you’re looking forward to?
In February, I am doing a chocolate candy-making program which I know will be fun and popular. Seriously, you can never go wrong with food programs. They are always a hit. In March, I have a week of programming in conjunction with spring break and that will be a blast. Then, in May my Teen Advisory Board is going to have a graduation party for several of its members who are well, graduating, and we all plan to play Just Dance which is going to be hilarious and comical as I cannot dance.

What is the best part about your job?
So many things! Meeting new teens, talking about books, visiting the schools in my community, being a person teens can rely on, reading books, doing storytimes (I have a small role in the youth services area too), and just being in the library atmosphere so much. While there are downsides to every job, I am fortunate that 90% of my day is usually spent doing things I love and helping teens gain access to new stories, information, or just being the person they need to talk to.

Are you involved with any professional organizations?
I am indeed! I am active in the Colorado Association of Libraries, both in their Leadership Institute which I am a part of, and CYAAL (Colorado Young Adult Advocates in Libraries). I am part of YALSA and slowly getting more involved with that. I am a blogger at YALSA’s new blog, The Hub. You cannot discount the value of networking in libraries. It gets projects done and it is another way to stay current in trends. For me, getting comfortable with networking was the biggest thing I struggled with coming out of library school. Yeah, the professors would tell us how important it was but there really wasn’t a great class to get you comfortable in the role of advocating for your library at social functions, at least for me.

Do you have any favorite online resources (either for teens or for librarians)?
I love Green Bean Teen Queen because she gives me great recommendations for tween reads and really, her website is amazing. I follow many blogs which keep me up to date on teen books. I am also a big user of Twitter because I have met librarians, teen readers, people who love YA in general, and have gotten so many great comments and continued engagement in my profession through Twitter (I’m whtabtpineapple). I also really like 4YA: Inspiration for Youth Advocates because I have gotten some very successful program ideas from that site.

What are some of your favorite books, series, authors, or genres?
I am a big reader of contemporary YA fiction. Elizabeth Scott, Jenny Han, Courtney Summers, Robin Benway, Morgan Matson. I am dying to read the conclusion to Jenny Han’s summer series. It is going to break my heart I think. I love YA books that are not afraid to tackle tough situations, ideas, and story lines. I love a good cry in my stories and I am a sucker for father/daughter relationships (Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King is one of my more recent faves that tackled this). I also like historical YA books, my favorite being Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. I am always on the hunt for books that will be a big hit with my guy readers so if you have some great suggestions please let me know!

Any other favorite pop culture stuff (movies, TV, music, games)?
I love TV way, way too much. How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family, The Vampire Diaries (my big exception to my paranormal ban. This show is fabulous!), Cougar Town, America’s Next Top Model, I could go on. TV is a competition for my reading habits, that is for certain. I definitely enjoy going to the movies (The King’s Speech–see it! You won’t regret it). I have an absurd love for Paul Rudd and Will Ferrell so I will see pretty much anything they are in even when I just know its going to be all fart jokes and sexist comments. I am a total dork for all things Harry Potter. I had the pleasure of meeting JK Rowling in October 2007 and it was exhilarating! And, I love celeb news. Yep, I’m one of those readers–Entertainment Weekly, People, TMZ, yep, love them all.

Vampires, werewolves, or zombies?
Can I say none? LOL. If I had to choose I’d go with werewolves but honestly, I am not really a paranormal reader at this point. It takes a very special YA paranormal book to get me to read it.

Librarian Spotlight: Angie Manfredi

Angie Manfredi works as the head of youth services at Los Alamos County Library System in New Mexico. She recently started the blog Fat Girl, Reading, is active in YALSA, and loves movies. Read on to learn more about Angie!

How long have you been a librarian?
I’ve been working in libraries for half my life. Working in the library was my after school job as a teen. When I took three years off during my undergraduate career, I went back to work there as a paralibrarian. I loved it so much I went back to school, finished my undergrad and got my MLIS. I’ve been a “professional” librarian for three years.

Why did you want to work with teens?
Besides the fact I think teens are absolutely the most fun patron base to work with, I also loved how challenging and interesting the professional field was and what an amazing body of literature was being created for teens. And, sentimentally, I think teenagers need passionate advocates in their corner, adults who are willing to stand up for them. I knew I could be that person.

What steps led you to your current position?
Thanks to my paraprofessional experience, I had real-life library experience even before graduate school. In graduate school at the University of Southern Mississippi I had the opportunity to work as a graduate assistant, furthering broadening my skill set. During my paraprofessional time, I had also made really great local connections in my home state, which helped me when I decided to try to get a job here, people “knew” me and that helped me a great deal.

What has been your favorite library program/project?
Gosh, how can I pick! Projects I’m proud of: aggressively building our manga/graphic novel collection from almost zero, starting our teen non-fiction collection, developing and presenting “Teen Services 101” trainings for library generalists, starting up our teen review blog, bringing my library’s teen program back from the dead! Program: Probably the teen book club I created that allows us to have online chats with the authors. It’s been a fun, challenging experience and is something special for the teens.

Are there any upcoming programs or events you’re looking forward to?
The teen group is always more active in the school year, so that’s exciting. I hope to get more teen booktalks in during our meetings this year. We can’t wait for the next round of the online book club in September, we’re discussing The Comet’s Curse with author Dom Testa. (It’s our first time doing science-fiction and hosting a male author, so yay! Our past chats were with Elizabeth Scott, Laurie Stolarz, and Gail Giles.) Last year, due to patron demand, we started a teen writer’s group and I’m excited to get that started in earnest this school year. Oh, and some girls are urging us to start a duct tape club after a successful duct tape program during our last lock-in, so there’s that. WHEW.

What is the best part about your job?
I think the answer would be the same for most librarians: it’s working with the patrons, that moment when you know you’ve connected them with something that is going to actually matter in their life. I can’t imagine anything being more rewarding, fulfilling, or better! And, for me, said patrons being teenagers and children makes it even more special.

Are you involved with any professional organizations?
I’m an active member of YALSA. Love YALSA, love their mission, love their work, love their hunger, love their determination. Currently, I’m serving on the 2011 Morris Award committee (do you have ANY idea how many amazing first novels have been published this year??) and am the chair of the Recession Relief Task Force. I am also the convener of the Outreach to Young Adults with Special Needs interest group … and we’re looking for new members and volunteers, so if you’re a YALSA member and want more info, contact me! I’m also a member of the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Roundtable. I really appreciate ALA, I’m glad it’s my professional organization. For people who can’t get involved nationally, I encourage them to get involved in their state organizations. That was a door-opener for me when I was a paralibrarian. I’m still active on the state level here in New Mexico. This is something I really advocate as a great way for teen librarians to help spread the message of teen services, get active in your state organizations, take the message to librarians that don’t have dedicated teen staff, help them get passionate about serving teens, show them what they can do in their libraries for teen services. I’ve seen how this inspires people!

Do you have any favorite online resources (either for teens or for librarians)?
I love blogs and twitter! I read and recommend all the blogs in the sidebar at my site. Twitter, especially, has been a great way to follow along with authors, librarians, and publishers. I love the daily glimpses into other librarian’s worlds, knowing that we’re all out there, dedicated to the same ideals, it’s awesome, energizing! Back in April, Scott Westerfeld tweeted something insulting about Mississippi and when I tweeted him back saying it was offensive, he tweeted an apology. Authors have found out about my book reviews thanks to Twitter. This is an amazing level of connection and it leads to such great conversations. (I’m @misskubelik, come find me!)

What are some of your favorite books, series, authors, or genres?
I like to say I am genre-venturous, I really will try anything and I have favorites in every genre. Recently I’ve really loved: The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell, Mistwood by Leah Cypess, The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff, oh, and Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness … what a wham-bam-outta-sight conclusion to one of the greatest contemporary YA series. All-time favorites: Kenneth Oppel’s Airborn series, M.T. Anderson’s Feed, John Green’s Looking for Alaska, Francesca Lia Block’s Dangerous Angels, Alex Sanchez’s Rainbow Boys, Libba Bray’s Going Bovine…I could go on and on. And everything by Rob Thomas, who wrote a small handful of influential, amazing YA novels from 1996-1998, before he vanished into working on/creating TV shows. (like the epic Veronica Mars.) Someday I want to write an article about him!

Any other favorite pop culture stuff (movies, TV, music, games)?
I’m a big fan of all aspects of popular culture. I’m extremely passionate about film, it’s my favorite hobby. The Oscars are like the Super Bowl for me! It’s fun when I get to recommend movies to teens. “Hey, you liked The Matrix? You should watch Alien!” And, when it’s done right, I like TV quite a bit.

Vampires, werewolves, or zombies?
I guess vampires thanks to Buffy, but book-wise … none of them are particular favorites. Zombies are definitely at the bottom! I find them to be ridiculously impractical and boring.

Librarian Spotlight: Emily Dezurick-Badran

Emily Dezurick-Badran works with teens as an Enquiry Assistant at Southend Central Library in Southend-on-Sea in Essex, England. She recently started the YA Library UK blog, loves her job, and has a penchant for horror. Read on to learn more about Emily!

How long have you been a librarian?
Unfortunately I’m not yet a librarian! I don’t have the qualification, so I’m simply an Enquiry Assistant, which is somewhere between being a Library Assistant and a Librarian. If all goes well, I’ll have start my MA in Library and Information Science in fall 2011.

I’ve been working as an Enquiry Assistant at Southend Central Library in Southend-on-Sea (in Essex, England) for about a year and nine months.

Why did you want to be a teen librarian?
I enjoy the way that young people–who are still outside of and somewhat suppressed by the adult world–question and challenge its artificial order. I have always been very pro-education and pro-information but uncomfortable with the authoritarian nature of the school system, so reaching teens through the library is a happy medium.

During my adolescence I spent a great deal of time lurking in various branches of San Francisco Public Library (I was born and raised in America). I knew a really wonderful teen librarian named Betsy Levine (who still works at SFPL!) who had a talent for bringing shy teens out of their shells and providing varied and exciting programming. I was inspired by my excellent experience both with the library collection itself and with Betsy specifically!

What steps led you to your current position?
I’m very lucky–I was hired as an Enquiry Assistant without any formal library experience except volunteer work. As soon as I completed preliminary training I asked to get involved with our teen reading group, and my role simply expanded from there. I’ve been very persistent in my enthusiasm for YA lit and teen services, and my supervisors are wonderfully supportive, so I’ve been allowed to assist with and sometimes create new teen-related projects.

What has been your favorite teen program?
My favorite event was definitely our Manga Day, a mini-convention that subsumed our library for one glorious Saturday. The whole thing was complete chaos of the best kind. I especially enjoyed watching some of the shyer young people discover other members of the local geek community and make new friends.

Are there any upcoming programs or events you’re looking forward to?
Working with teens has just been officially added to my professional goals for the next year (previously it was an official part of my post!). I’m just beginning to consider a plan for the next year of teen programming, so nothing’s certain at the moment. My two wonderful managers have invited me to collaborate with them on a three-year teen plan, so I’m quite happy and optimistic about that.

What is the best part about your job?
Helping people of all ages is the best aspect of my job, although it can also be the most frustrating part. I also love creating new teen programs and finding new solutions to seemingly impossible problems (lack of funds, staff, et cetera). Getting to know the teens who come to library programs on a regular basis has been a real pleasure, too.

Are you involved with any professional organizations?
I’m a member of the American Library Association, specifically YALSA, who have awarded me a grant to attend this year’s YALSA conference, which I’m tremendously excited about. I frequently read and post to the YA-YAAC list. I’m also in the process of getting my CILIP membership (CILIP is the UK’s professional library association).

Do you have any favorite online resources?
For YA I often look at teenlibrarian.co.uk (run by the fantastic Matt Imrie) and the YALSA blog for advice on teen programs and events. I read Chicklish for YA reviews, and really enjoy the Book Smugglers’ YA Appreciation Month. Personally I use or refer many people to online libraries such as Project Gutenberg and Internet Archive (the latter not least for its fantastic film stock), and encyclopedias like Wolfram Alpha and of course the ubiquitous Wikipedia.

What are some of your favorite books, series, authors or genres?
I hope you know that this is an unreasonable question to ask someone who works in a library! I’ll just direct you to my Goodreads profile.

As for YA: Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (even though I keep typing “Absolutely True Dairy”–rather a different book, I’d imagine. “The cows had all settled in their…” what is it? Pens? Mangers? Cowsheds? Er, corrals? What do cows settle in?), I adore Garth Nix’s Abhorsen trilogy (which I first read when I was a young teen!), and I enjoy anything Robin McKinley writes. As for supernatural YA novels, Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series is my absolute favourite–I love the tough-as-nails heroine and the clever incorporation of folklore and invented theology.

More recently I read Jean Ure’s novel Bad Alice, which I highly recommend to teens and adults alike.

Any other favorite pop culture stuff (movies, TV, music, games)?
Horror films are an obsession, as are comics (I mostly enjoy story lines influenced by but just outside the Marvel/DC superhero tradition–The Maxx, Watchmen, Sandman, Preacher, but also love comics like A Child’s Life and Persepolis and Madison Clell’s Cuckoo). Red Dwarf is probably my favourite TV series. At present I’m obsessed with the idea of gaming as a new type of storytelling, and am especially interested in Alternate Reality Games.

Vampires, werewolves, or zombies?
I believe in equal opportunities for all monsters! My favourite horror novel is definitely Let the Right One In, (although I also love Shirley Jackson’s spooky stories), but I also love the Romero and post-Romero zombie. I could go on forever about monsters.

Librarian Spotlight: Library Media Teacher Richard Winters

Today’s librarian spotlight features Richard Winters, the library media teacher at Wasco Union High School Library in Wasco, CA.

How long have you been a librarian?
Five years

Why did you want to be a high school librarian?
The love of the research process and teaching it, the love of books, and the chance to work with all students instead of the limited population you encounter in the classroom.

What steps led you to your current position?
I taught English and ELD (English Language Development) in high school and my department head early on was also the librarian. I used to keep the library open after school for my students to do research. I enjoyed teaching the process, helping them find things, and, of course, books. My department head sent me to a fair for potential library students and wanted me to enter because of my love for what the library entails. So, all of that combined with the chance to work with “toys” (technology) is what drove me to this position.

What has been your favorite library program or activity?
My assistant and I host a podcast every school month where we (along with other students and teachers) review books, movies, video games, talk about school activities (like the international economic summit, Link Crew,
etc.).

Are there any upcoming programs or events you’re looking forward to?
The next big event is the end of the WWE Reading Challenge, which I love as a big wrestling fan.

What is the best part about your job?
Working with students and technology, because they have such great ideas to expand what we do such
as the podcast, blogs, websites, etc.

Do you have any favorite online resources?
The Unquiet Librarian is brilliant and provides great resources for librarians. For students I like Facts on File.

What are some of your favorite books, series, authors or genres?
Pendergrast series, Stephen King, Agatha Christie and I recently found I really like Cynthia Leitich Smith.

Any other favorite pop culture stuff (movies, TV, music, games)?
I LOVE video games, 360 rules, I even do video walkthroughs (tigerwalkthrough.com) that i started recently. We are not really into TV in my family, but I enjoy movies (Star Wars, Pump Up the Volume and anything Bruce Campbell does).

Vampires, werewolves, or zombies?
Vampires! Werewolves slobber too much and zombies are so slow (yes, Zombies are slow! I do not know where they get this moving quickly stuff from!)

Librarian Spotlight: Teen Services Librarian Andrea Graham

Today’s librarian spotlight features Andrea Graham, the Head of Teen Services for South Country Library in Bellport, New York. She also runs 4YA, a blog for youth advocates that features all kinds of fun program ideas, information about video games, and other great content.

How long have you been a librarian?
It will be three wild years in March.

Why did you want to be a teen librarian?
When I was younger I wanted to be a youth culture anthropologist and a educational documentary filmmaker. I went to Brunel University in London, and received a master’s in the Cross Cultural Studies of Childhood and Youth. When I returned home, I began to volunteer at my local library’s teen department with an amazing librarian named Katherine Welch. She suggested that I pursue a career in youth librarianship, I resisted the idea for about five minutes and then went back to school. It was the best decision I ever made. I enrolled at Queens College and had the chance to take a bunch of classes with the YALSA founder, Mary K. Chelton, she has been a fantastic mentor and a constant inspiration.

What steps led you to your current position?
I was hired as a full-time librarian trainee and still work for my original employer.

What has been your favorite teen program?
There are so many, but the one my teens say they loved the best was our zombie horror makeup workshop. It was monstrously messy but totally worth it.

Are there any upcoming programs or events you’re looking forward to?
I have my annual goblin gourd workshop tomorrow, they are these little gourds that my teens turn into goblins using paint and clay. They are pretty awesome and funny.

What is the best part about your job?
The teens. For every headache they bring a thousand laughs.

Are you involved with any local or national professional organizations?
Yes, I am a member of the Suffolk County YASD, and YALSA. I have learned so much from these organizations. I really think being a member of professional organizations is a must.

Do you have any favorite online resources?
My new fave is Just So You Know. It’s a blog for teens and features all the new movies, celebrities, music and games that teens love. It really helps me keep track with what’s cool.

What are some of your favorite books, series, authors or genres?
My favorite YA book is Feed by M.T. Anderson. I think it should be passed out every Teen Tech Week. I love technology and the Internet, but I think Anderson’s story is a true cautionary tale for today’s youth. We need to develop a greater value for our unplugged time. When it comes to adult fiction, I really enjoy reading Nick Hornby.

Any other favorite pop culture stuff (movies, TV, music, games)?
I have been spending my fleeting free time playing LittleBigPlanet. It’s cute, clever, wildly creative and has a killer soundtrack.

Vampires, werewolves, or zombies?
Goblins. They need love too.

Librarian Spotlight: Young Adult Librarian Camille Thompson

camille thompsonToday’s librarian spotlight features Camille Thompson, a Young Adult Librarian at the New Brunswick Free Public Library in New Jersey.

How long have you been a librarian?
I’ve been an official librarian for two years, but have worked in libraries in some capacity for about five years.

Why did you want to be a teen librarian?
Teens are so enthusiastic, emotional, and open to new things. They are just much more fun and much less scary than adults.

What steps led you to your current position?
In college I worked in the university library and volunteered at the local public library. I went to library school as soon as I graduated from college and worked at the university library there for a while before being hired as a part-time librarian trainee where I now work. When I graduated I was hired as a full-time librarian focusing on adult programming. Our YA librarian left about 8 months after that and I happily took over her position.

What has been your favorite teen program?
I had a “Breaking Dawn” release party where I gave away copies of the book, had a trivia contest and scavenger hunt and appropriately themed foods. It was a big hit.

Are there any upcoming programs or events you’re looking forward to?
I’m having “Project Recycled Runway” this summer (an idea I borrowed from Princeton Public Library). Teens will be provided thrift store clothes and embellishments and will make awesome outfits from those. They will be evaluated by a panel of judges and the winner will get a $25 gift card to a local store.

What is the best part about your job?
One of my favorite moments was when I did some book talking at the high school and an 11th grade boy came in to the library after school asking me for “Dr. Franklin’s Island.” Eleventh grade boys in an area like New Brunswick will generally not admit to anyone that they would even consider reading a book, so to me it was pretty amazing. Small things like that make me feel like I might be igniting a passion for reading in teens who might not be told in any other setting that it’s OK to like books.

Are you involved with any local or national professional organizations?
I am a member of ALA and YALSA and the New Jersey Library Association. I’ve served on the NJLA Summer Reading Committee and Honors and Awards Committee.

Do you have any favorite online resources?
TeenReads.com is good. I also subscribe to YALSA-BK, read YA authors’ blogs and follow YA book-related people on Twitter.

What are some of your favorite books, series, authors or genres?
I find myself loving the post-apocalyptic lately. “Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins, “Life As We Knew It” by Susan Beth Pfeffer and “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy are my current favorites in that genre. On the lighter side, I really like “I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You” by Ally Carter and “The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks” by E. Lockhart.

Any other favorite pop culture stuff (movies, TV, music, games)?
I just saw “Up” and loved it. Right now I’m Netflixing (is that a verb?) “The Wire,” “True Blood,” “Weeds,” and “Doctor Who.” I want to re-watch all of “Battlestar Galactica” soon too.

Vampires, werewolves, or zombies?
Vampires if we’re choosing romantic involvement, zombies if we’re choosing a creature of the apocalypse

Librarian Spotlight: Young Adult Librarian Candice Mack

Librarian Spotlight is a recurring feature that highlights fun and interesting youth services librarians. If you know someone who should be featured, please send me their contact information.

Today’s featured librarian is Candice Mack, a Young Adult Librarian at the Encino-Tarzana Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A LIBRARIAN?
1 year & 5 months (But I’ve worked in libraries since 1995 as a student worker and then a library clerk)

WHY DID YOU WANT TO BE A TEEN LIBRARIAN?
Teens have so much energy and creativity! Unfortunately, I think their needs have largely been ignored or read by adults as negative. It’s definitely getting better now and I wanted to help address this lack. My undergraduate degree was in Psychology with a focus on Youth and Adolescent Development, so I’ve always wanted to work with kids and teens. Young adult librarianship has just tied together two of my passions — helping teens and sharing my love of information.

WHAT STEPS LED YOU TO YOUR CURRENT POSITION?
I had worked in academic and medical libraries before attending library school, so at first I thought I was going to go into medical librarianship. I was working full-time at the same time I was attending library school, though, so my schedule was limited. Because of my tight schedule, I decided to take Storytelling one quarter because it was the only night class being offered. I ended up LOVING the class and meeting some really great folks in the program who helped me reexamine my interest in working with teens and public librarianship.

After that, I did some informational interviews with awesome teen librarians like Brigid Fennell (Glendale Public Library) and Georgette Todd (Los Angeles Public Library). Through Brigid and Georgette’s encouragement, I was able to do an internship in the Children’s Room at the Glendale Public Library – Main Library and then an internship at Teen’Scape, the teen department at Los Angeles Public Library’s Central Library. My internships were wonderful experiences and really sold me on the idea of becoming a youth services librarian.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE TEEN PROGRAM?
A toss-up between Holiday Candy Making, where 30 odd teens and tweens and I made mass amounts of chocolate candies, Books with Bite for Teen Read Week, where guest speakers Dean Lorey (author of the “Nightmare Academy” series) and Del Howison (author, editor and owner of the horror bookstore “Dark Delicacies”) discussed the writing process with about 30 teens and tweens, and our Free Comic Book Day comics workshop featuring Kenny Keil (author and illustrator of “Tales to Suffice.”) Kenny went through the steps of how to create a comic and all of the teens who attended the Free Comic Book Day workshop created mini-comics. Some of the comics made that day are up online.

ARE THERE ANY UPCOMING PROGRAMS OR EVENTS YOU’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO?
I’m really looking forward to the Teen Summer Reading Program! Last year, we had a great comics discussion club and this year, we’re going to have a general book discussion club. The theme this year is “Teen LA” and I’m looking forward to hearing what the teens and tweens think is the best and brightest in our community.

WHAT IS THE BEST PART ABOUT YOUR JOB?
I really enjoy helping patrons of all ages, but I have to admit that I like helping teens and tweens best. It’s a volatile time for them and they’ve got a lot going on so I’m glad that the library can offer them an escape as well as assistance with everything that is going on with their lives.

ARE YOU INVOLVED WITH ANY LOCAL OR NATIONAL PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS?
I am active in the American Library Association (ALA), California Library Association (CLA), Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA), and Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). Currently, I’m a member of CLA’s Edna Yelland Scholarship Committee, APALA’s Asian Pacific Award for Literature Committee, the ALA’s Spectrum Student Interest Group, YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee and YALSA’s Division and Membership Promotion Committee.

DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVORITE ONLINE RESOURCES?
I heart listservs! My favorites are YALSA-BK and GN-LIB. I also make use of the YALSA website and subscribe to a lot of Twitter feeds by librarians and book publishers. That way, I have interesting library and book news delivered right to my inbox and Twitter feed. My Twitter feed is at: http://twitter.com/tinylibrarian.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE BOOKS, SERIES, AUTHORS OR GENRES?
My favorite author (and who I discovered as a teen) is Neil Gaiman! I was so happy that he won the Newbery Award this year for the Graveyard Book!

I’m also a big fan of Sarah Dessen, Maureen Johnson, Brian Michael Bendis, Barry Lyga, and Cecil Castellucci.

In terms of series, I’ve really enjoyed the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, the Blue Bloods series by Melissa De La Cruz, the Luxe series by Anna Godbersen, the Georgia Nicholson books by Louise Rennison. I also like fantasy like the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman, the Harry Potter series by Rowling, Lord of the Rings by Tolkien and the Dark Angel series by Meredith Ann Pierce. Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of manga series like Naruto, Death Note, Kitchen Princess, Mixed Vegetables, High School Debut, Bizenghast, Me & My Brothers and Otomen.

ANY OTHER FAVORITE POP CULTURE STUFF (MOVIES, TV, MUSIC, GAMES)?
My new favorite video game is “Cooking Mama,” which you can now play on the iPhone! You use the touch screen and movement sensors in the phone to chop vegetables, melt butter and knead dough! I also recently got hooked on the Korean live action version of the Japanese manga “Boys Over Flowers.” A band that I love seeing live is Gogol Bordello! Almost all of the band members are immigrants or children of immigrants so they have a strong commitment to musical diversity and fuse punk, gypsy, ska, rap, and salsa rhythms in their songs.

VAMPIRES, WEREWOLVES, OR ZOMBIES?
Vampires, definitely! I started reading Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles when I was a teen and am thrilled at the resurgence of vampire lit.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
This is just my first year and a half as a teen librarian and I can’t wait for what adventures the future may bring.