See you at ALA!


Are you headed to ALA Orlando? Come see our presentation “Geeky Programming on a Ramen Noodle Budget!” Sarah and I are super excited to share all about the budget friendly programs we host at our library. We will also share about LibraryCon 2015  and update you on all the new ideas we have for our now annual summer event!

Geeky Programming on a Ramen Noodle Budget

Sunday, June 26
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Orange County Convention Center, Room S320 G-H

Do you shop at the Dollar Store to make your resources stretch? Do you repeat the same crafts for every program you do? Do you want to provide excellent programs for teens using the budget and resources you already have at your disposal? This program will give examples of how one library used a small budget and lots of creativity to provide geektastic programs-from monthly geeky fandom events to a library-wide ComicCon.

Meeting Type: Program

Interests: Young Adult Services, Youth Services

Type of Library: Public

Sponsors: YALSA

Cost: Included with full conference registration.


  • SB

    Sarah Bean Thompson

    Youth Services Manager
    Springfield-Greene County Library
    Springfield, Missouri

  • VB

    Valerie Bogert

    Young Adult Librarian
    Springfield-Greene County Library
    Springfield, Missouri

Hobbit Day

This week I am playing catch up on what we have been programming in the library. I have several fun and low cost programs to share with my readers. Feel free to use the ideas at your own library!

My favorite program besides Star Wars Reads Day has to be Hobbit Day. We received a lovely party package from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt that made the day even more special. Alas, it was also the last movie from the world of Tolkien (cue sad face) and we wanted to go out with a bang. I partnered with the lovely Miss A who moonlights as our tween librarian, and together we rocked the Shire library style. We also quickly learned that we should never be allowed to work together on anything because I think there was more giggling than actual progress. There was also a fair amount of party Thranduil memes being sent back and forth but I digress..

Our patrons had a blast and we had a wonderful family stay the entire time and call around inviting their friends to join them. The only downside is that I didn’t get more pictures of the event. We were so busy with the quest that I left my camera in my pocket the whole time!

Hobbit party an all ages program:

We decided that this should be an all ages event and hit up Pinterest for some ideas. There are lots of people that have done some amazing birthday parties around all things LOTR. This was our favorite and the inspiration for most of our party: LOTR Party

We used the biggest room in the library and turned it into a mini quest. When the children walked in the they chose whether they wanted to be a Hobbit, an Elf, or a Dwarf. Each race was represented by a different colored leaf with a name written on it. They could tape it on their shirt or wear it as a necklace. They also received the “One ring.”  Once they had those things they started on their quest. The quest was marked by brown paper “stones” with arrows pointing in the right direction.

The Rings

We made these out of paper towel tubes and painted them gold. I used a sharpie to write some squiggles on the sides for the dark writing.

Stop #1- The Dead Marshes


Children had to walk through the treacherous marshes using the secret path. I used some blue bulletin board paper, paper stepping stones, fake and real plants, and lots of leaves. We didn’t want to make it too scary for the little guys.

Stop #2- Shoot the bad guys!

We set up a shooting gallery with the bad guy characters from both LOTR and the Hobbit. Miss A turned the extra scary looking orcs into party orcs with bow-ties and silly hats. The kids then got to either throw rocks at them (giant puff balls) or shoot them with Legolas’s bow. Most of them tried both and there were lots of cheers when they knocked them off the mountain.

Stop #3 – Shelobe’s Lair

For this stop we covered two tables with black sheets and added some spider web and fake spiders. Inside the lair were a bunch of spider eggs (Easter eggs) that either had a spider ring or a bit of web. The kids had to crawl inside and find an egg. When they came out the other side they opened it up and found out if they were safe (spider web) or if they had gotten bit by the spiders (spider ring). If they were bitten they had to be wrapped in toilet paper (web)  before they could continue their journey. This was the second most popular stop and there were lots of giggles.

Stop #4- Riddles in the Dark

I made a guessing game using old jean pockets and filled them with random items. The kids had to feel the outside of the pocket and see if they could guess what was inside.

Stop #5- Mount Doom



Once they got to this stop they had to toss their gold rings into the fires of Mount Doom to save all of Middle Earth. After they had destroyed the ring they got a poster of Gandalf and a ring bookmark to take home. We built the volcano using two huge flower pots and brown paper. We added some red and orange tissue paper and streamers for the lava. The kids really loved it. It ended up being a photo stop for the parents.

After the quest they could do more activities that were set up around the room. We had match the actors to the Dwarves, make a shield, Hobbit trivia, and lots of puzzles and games. We also had music from the movies playing the background.

We had lots of people come and go and it was a very successful party with not a lot of expense. If you are thinking about hosting one of these parties and need some of the trivia questions or puzzles you can find them here:





Ani-May Fest

This year has been a pretty awesome so far. We finally have a thriving Teen Advisory board that is excited about planning and running programs at the library. Wait… you’re letting them run the programs?! Yes, and other than a few hiccups it has been a success.

I had an end of the school year pizza party for my TAB members and we discussed what we wanted to do for the end of spring and beginning of summer. The top request was me letting them plan and run an entire program from start to finish. I let them choose which event they wanted to do and they all selected   Ani-May Fest. I have to admit I was crazy excited about their choice. To be honest, (Librarian confession time) I am not a huge fan of anime or manga. I have tried to watch the shows they recommend and read the top teen manga for many years. But, I just can’t get into it. Don’t get me wrong, I have mad respect for the genre. The art is fantastic and I get why it is popular. It’s just not something I am ever going to love.

When I first became a the Teen Librarian at our branch I had to run a few programs that the previous librarian had planned. One of them was a Manga night. It was my first fandom program and it didn’t go over very well. I had planned a ton of crafts and had lots of themed snacks for them to try. 12 kids showed up and half were horrified when I confessed that I had not watched or read much from the genre. Several ended up leaving after one girl declared that I was unfit to run anything since I wasn’t a fan. After a few awkward minutes the rest settled in to drawing their favorite characters and chatting. The only saving grace was the cart of manga that had been weeded from the department that I let them take home. Even though the program for the most part bombed I did learn a lot about the genre from the teens that stuck around and were willing to school me on their favorites.

Ani-May Fest was planned 100% by my TAB group. They chose the title and helped me write the description for the program. The only thing I was in charge of was getting the food and setting up a Crunchyroll account so they could watch some anime on the big screen. The best part? One of the teen boys who is not a fan wanted to come and help his TAB friends run the event because he wanted to support what they love. Adorable! Here is what we did:

Ani-May Fest

Celebrate all things anime and manga during this special event. Learn how to make candy sushi and gyotaku paintings, watch episodes from Crunchyroll, rated TV-14/PG-13 and under, and discuss your favorite characters. Other craft activities, games and snacks will be provided. Costumes are welcome!

Candy Sushi

IMG_6473 IMG_6474


My TAB members ended up making the sushi for the other attendees instead of letting everyone try it. It turned out okay and they had fun bringing it out on serving trays for everyone to try. I highly recommend using name brand candy and not the cheap stuff. We got the super cheap, off brand twizzlers and they all thought they tasted really bad. Twizzler makes a rainbow variety that taste a lot better! We used the following guide to make our version:

how to make candy sushi

Tip: Use Pam and Wax paper!! We forgot to spray the wax paper with Pam so everything was super stuck together!

Gyotaku Prints-


Gyotaku is a Japanese tradition where you use fish and ink to make prints. It started in the 1800’s and may have been used by fishermen to record the size of their catch. Now it’s a lovely art form! We are lucky to have a small collection of rubber fish that we use at various events. You paint one side of the fish with acrylic paint and lay a large piece of paper over the fish. Then you gently rub it to make the print. Everyone tried it but only few took their prints home. One of the teens suggested that we add googly eyes next time to make them “cooler.” The other suggestion was to us real fish.. um no!



There is a wonderful resource for Libraries called Crunchyroll. It is a streaming service that has lots of popular Anime you can watch in your library. All they require is for users to fill out a short survey at the end of their program on how they used the service. If you buy a membership, it is around $7.00 a month.

Chopstick relay- 

This was my favorite event of the night! One of my TAB members created this game for the attendees. He came up with the rules and made sure that everyone got a chance to play! I am so proud of him and I wish I had grabbed better pictures of what he created.

IMG_6478 IMG_6479

The game is pretty simple. See how many items you can pick up and put into the cup using chopsticks. Each item has a value based on how hard or easy it was to pick up with chopsticks. The first round you could use cheater chopsticks and the second round you used chopsticks the traditional way. There was an option to use cheaters the whole time but you forfeited half of your score.  We used flat glass marbles, pom poms, glass shapes, and beads. Some of the glass marbles were inside a vase so it was harder to get them out and into your cup. The teens loved this game and played it over and over. They even created new rules and set up a relay race between partners where you passed pom poms to each other using the chopsticks. There were lots of laughs and everyone got a chance to play!

Other Activities-

Most of them just wanted to draw while watching anime. I had a few games set out: Sushi Go, Takenoko, Tsuro, and King of Tokyo. I also had templates for DIY Pokemon cards and origami paper for folding. It was pretty low key and they could what they wanted or just hang out with their friends.

If you are looking for themed snacks check out Asian markets in your area. I found a bag of 25 chopstick sets for under a $1 and inexpensive candy for them to try. Survey your teens and see if they have any favorites and where they go to buy them.

Final Thoughts- 

This was a lot of fun! My TAB team did a pretty good job helping out with the program. Only one stayed and helped clean up afterwards which is something we need to work on as a group. I’m also working with them to mingle with the crowd a bit more. They tend to get a bit clannish and stick together. We’ve got the planning thing down. We just need to work on the participation part!

The other teens all had a good time and they didn’t care that their librarian was not a huge fan. They loved sharing their favorites with me and liked that other teens planned this event. They asked if this could be a yearly event every May!

Having teens plan your events can help if you are not well versed on a fandom. If you don’t have a TAB group you can still plan a meet up like this. Check with other staff and see if there are fans out there that would be willing to help you with the event. At the very least they can give you pointers so you are not totally in the dark. Finally, be willing to do a bit of research about the fandom and also give it a chance. You don’t have to like everything to plan a fun night!





April Reading Challenge- Get Graphic

For this month’s reading challenge I wanted to do something fun. I have this monster pile of Graphic Novels and comic books that I am dying to read and April is pretty booked with programming at the library. I don’t really have the time for those big thick novels, but I do know I can get through most of my comic books and graphics. Are you with me?

This is one of my favorite genres to promote. I love doing graphic novel readers advisory with kids and teens. Not only do I get to promote a good story, I get to promote the fantastic artwork. If you haven’t jumped into the graphic pool you are missing out. There is a graphic novel for nearly everyone. From traditional superhero stories, to every day life, fantasy, science fiction, and even graphics about classic books like Shakespeare. Plus, the artwork is a treat and it requires a more attention to detail than a traditional book.

The goal I am setting is to catch up on my comic book subscriptions (aka- huge Star Wars binge) and read some of the newer graphics that keep catching my eye in the teen department. I don’t have a set number for this round so it’s more of a read at your own pace challenge. But, I was encouraged by my dear husband to actually deal with all my comic book boxes that are littering the living room. Challenge accepted!

As always you can Tweet to me if you like: @MsVal313

I would love to hear about what you are reading both good and bad!


A request

Dear Readers,

I love that some of you have referenced my posts on your own blogs or in presentations. I think that is awesome and I am always willing to share. I do have a request. If you take my programming pictures or direct posts from my blog could you please credit where they came from? I recently came across a few of my posts and pictures on a training presentation  from a University. Most of the photos were credited but mine were not. It’s not really a matter of “hey that’s my stuff give it back, ” but more of a “I bet your readers might like to hear more about that program.” Librarians work really hard prepping programming that works for our patrons. Almost all of us are willing to share our ideas with each other. Please remember to be kind and add a link back or give credit to the stuff that you decide to use.

Thanks a bunch!!

Valerie B.

Teen Librarian at The Library Center
Springfield Greene County Library District
Springfield, MO

March Clean Sweep Reading Results

Last month I challenged myself and my readers to do a “Clean sweep” of their bookshelves. The goal of this challenge was to read 15 books on your TBR pile. I am happy to say that I nailed this one and read a total of 17 books!  I am really excited because I always seem to either run out time or energy before I finish any of the challenges I set for myself. This time I was able to read some of the books on my sadly neglected shelves. I still have a ridiculous amount to finish, but such is the life of a Librarian. So many books, so little time..


Here is a highlight of what I read in March: Feel free to friend me on Goodreads if you want to see more of what I am reading.

Salt to the Sea- By Ruta Sepetys

5 stars

This was my favorite book. Sepetys is a fantastic author and her historical tales are always a treat. This is no exception. 4 teenagers, 4 secrets, and one terrible event. I honestly (and a bit shamefully) have never heard of the wreck of the Wilhelm Gustloff during WWII. After reading this book I spent quite a bit of time researching this horrible tragedy. Sadly, there are not many books out there about the Wilhelm Gustloff. I recommend this article from Time about the book and her research.

This is a fantastic historical book that will break your heart.


 All the Feels- By Danika Stone

5 stars

This book was so much fun and one of my favorite romantic reads of 2016. Check out my review here.



 Famous Last Words- By Katie Alender

3.5 stars

Willa is seeing things… Ghostly images, dead bodies floating in a pool, sinister messages on the wall. Could these things be connected to the Hollywood killer that is murdering young women and putting their dead bodies into creepy scenes from a movie?

This one was pretty predictable for me. It still was an interesting story and I think that mystery lovers will still like it. It says horror, but it’s pretty light.


 The Girl From Everywhere- By Heidi Heilig

3.5 stars

This book promises time travel, high seas adventure, and romance. While it does have all of those things, was expecting more. The time travel aspect is pretty low for a book titled “The Girl From Everywhere.” I think that was my main disappointment. It is a good story and I did like the love interest and the mystery. I really really wanted there to be a ton of time travel and more adventure on the sea.

I can see this being popular with the Doctor Who crowd and with teens who like time travel.


 Deception’s Pawn- By Esther Friesner

2.5 stars

This is the second book in of the Deception series that is set in  first century Ireland. For the most part I liked the first book. It had a good adventure with a strong female protagonist. This book  however, was not as good as the first. I felt like the whole book was just other characters constantly commenting on her beauty. Then there was the whole bullying aspect from the other girls. I really struggled to finish this one. It may have been my mood at the time. It is an okay finish to the series. It just doesn’t have that wow factor that I was hoping for.



What were your favorites for the month of March? I would love to hear about them and maybe add a few more to my TBR pile! Stay tuned for my April Reading Challenge.


All the Feels- By Danika Stone

All the FeelsAll the Feels by Danika Stone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OMG! All the feels!! Normally I am not a romance reader. However, the title of this book was so enticing that I had to grab it. It did not disappoint. This book was hard core geek wrapped in squees and swoon worthy dialog.

College Freshman Liv, is navigating the trials of newly won adulthood while still under her mother’s roof. When her favorite character of all time is killed off she is left a pile of sobbing fangirl desperation. Determined to bring him back she launches #SpartanSurvived with her steampunk loving (and totally gorgeous) best friend Xander. The tag takes on a life of its own much to the chagrin of her mother who thinks that this fandom thing needs to die yesterday. Now Liv must balance college classes, an online rebellion, her mother’s nagging, and her budding feelings for her best friend.

What I loved-

This is book sums up fandom, feels, online obsession, and geekdom in the most perfect way possible. I loved Liv. She is awkward and determined without becoming the typical Mary Sue of her own story. I could totally relate to her love of Starveil because I am an epic fangirl of all things Star Wars.

Xander… wow.. um not a romance girl here but dang bring on the swoons! He is dreamy and chivalrous. I found myself blushing during some of the dialog! Who wouldn’t love him?!

DragonCon.. Hello, yes.. this is exactly what it feels like to be at your first con. Especially for someone with a touch of social anxiety. You totally feel at home with your people, but at the same time there are so many of them that you want to run screaming for the door. It is overwhelming in the best and worst ways possible. The author does a fantastic job of describing what it is actually like.

Online fandoms.. YES!!! This is what happens when you meet someone you have only talked to online. Sometimes it’s awesome and sometimes you are thrown for a huge loop! Loved this part!

The romance.. Hello steamy without being smut! This book has been mentioned under the umbrella of New Adult. At first this was a bit of a turn off for me. Many of the New Adult books can be pretty hardcore leaving little to the imagination. Thankfully this one manages to stay fairly clean with no sex scenes. It does have some really steamy dialog and blush worthy kissing moments but manages to stay pretty PG-13. I would not have a problem recommending this to my high school students.

Mild issues-

There are a few plot holes. Mostly involving her mother and her mother’s boyfriend. (Who is just icky!) Another involves the actor from Starveil. That one left me hanging. I won’t say anymore because I feel like it would give away the big twist!

Final thoughts-

This is the book that all fangirls should read. It nails fandom and feels perfectly. The romance is real and not rushed even though it’s sooo dreamy! I adored this book and will be recommending it to all my geek girls who need a mostly clean romance with plenty of swoon!

View all my reviews