Geeking out with Teen Librarian Angela

Happy Friday everyone!


This week I got the pleasure to interview local Teen Librarian, Angela Bivona.

This looks exactly like her!


She will be coming to meet us at our We Cosplay event next Tuesday!

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No matter if you are into Cosplay or not, this event will be awesome! She will be showing some of her own costume pieces (Akatsuki from Log Horizon!) and bringing supplies for us to make our own LED bracelets!

It’s a great teen craft about circuits!

She got the instructions on how to create these through People submit tutorials to do pretty much anything from recipes to IKEA hacking. Not everything is useful for libraries but some of it definitely is.


Here’s some things she wanted to share about being a Teen Librarian


Q: Why did you want to become a Teen Librarian?

A: I identify a lot more with teens and what they are going through. I grew up in an era where there wasn’t a lot for teens to do. Teens couldn’t do anything unless they drove. In the local library, teen outreach and programs was not emphasized as much as family and children programming. Now I can make an option of creating a place for teens to go to, to be part of the community.

Q: How do you identify with teens?

A: Growing up in an air force family, I moved around a lot. I was constantly trying to find a sense of where I am, who I am. With many teens, I’m able to share that sense of trying to belong. I understand their awkward phases. This makes me approachable to talk to about resources or book recommendations.

My interests coincide with theirs a lot of the time. I love anime, manga/comics, and video games (I’m a proud gamer!). I follow pop culture stuff in order to always have relevant recommendations.

Q: What are some characteristics of a great teen librarian?

A: A lot of people forget what it was like to be a teen. To be a great teen librarian, you have to at least remember what it was like to be a teen and how awkward it was. You use that feeling to relate to them.

You also have to be:

  • Nonjudgmental: you never know where the teens are coming from.
  • Open: They can be sensitive about their lives and need to know that you won’t judge.
  • Respectful: Teens can be a difficult age group to work with. The best way to have them respect you is to respect them. They do not fulfill the stereotype of troubling teens. They are all their own people trying to find where they fit in in life just like all of us.
  • Patient: You have to work with them with a gentle heart.
  • Adaptive to their learning style: This is important with teens but also with everyone. There are 3 types of learning styles: seeing, hearing, and doing. Everyone learns differently, and we have to adapt to that.

Q: What are ways to incorporate cosplay into teen programming?

A: You can create like we will on Tuesday or you can bring in other cosplayers and have a anime showing or some other type of gathering. As an example, there is an organization called the 501 legion that is a nonprofit that dresses up as stormtroopers for charity events. They are perfect for a Star Wars party!


You can always incorporate pop culture with food. Try decorating some of these with teens!


Q: What other programs do you like to plan?

A: My most popular program is Melting Crayon Art. It is just crayon shavings and crayons, foamcore board, and a heat gun. The teens create the most creative pieces. I love being part of that process.


Some other programs are video game days, bottle cap necklace making, and a whole bunch of STEAM kits that my library system provides. They can create Lego robots, sound boards, and so much more!

There are also many teen volunteer programs like book buddies (where a teen is paired with an elementary school child to read together), teen advisory boards, and library volunteering. These are all great to help them ease into the professional world. They practice time management and workplace norms.

Q: What are some resources that you follow on a daily basis?

A: I follow so many things but the main ones are:

  • VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates) publication has great book reviews
  • YALSA (wiki for great program ideas, calendar for display ideas.
  • School Library Journal for book reviews as well.
  • is your friend. Book review materials for ages 10-18. Hosted by SLJ.

You can’t read everything, so definitely look at a lot of reviews. Keep up to date on what books are being advertised in teen magazines (Entertainment Weekly too).

Q: Are there things you are still learning on the job?

A: All the time. Being a librarian is a constant day of learning. Since I’m a relatively new teen librarian, I’m learning everyday. I’m definitely still working on outreach and community engagement. It’s really important to get to know the school librarians, that’s how you get to go into schools. It’s something I need to work on because I’m introverted. But as I get to know people, I start to come out of my shell more.

Q: Do you have any advice for someone who is interested in Teen Services?

A: The most important advice I can give you is to create a collaborative space. Collaborate with your coworkers, collaborate with other organizations. It’s amazing what can be accomplished and innovated when there are many minds going for the same goal.

Q: Are there any classes that you would recommend a future teen librarian to take?

A: Definitely take an introduction to young adult literature. You will read a lot but that’s how you get to know teen stuff. That in addition to reviews gives you a sense of what’s out there.

Also, reader’s advisory is huge! If you can speed-read (like me) than it’s easy but if not, look at reviews often and know where to find the information.

Lastly, don’t forget to ask questions. As I said before, the library is a collaborative environment. Ask questions of people who are looking for a book or who just read a new book. Ask your coworkers and mentors and you will be set!

Thank you Angela! We will see you Tuesday!


Calling All Future Student Leaders!


Do you like working with kids or teens?  Would you like to meet professionals who have the same interests as you?  Are you looking for a great way to network with some like-minded people?


iYouth is looking for enthusiastic leaders interested in youth services or who just has a passion for leadership and youth.  We create a community of students to share ideas and passions to envision a future of the youth services profession.  We are committed to working with allies in organizing events –(iYouth Conferences)– that focus on professional development opportunities and networking, as they relate to the UW iSchool and the field of youth services at large.  What is the iYouth conference?  It is a full day of networking and skill building.  We will have librarians from around the area giving speeches, conducting workshops, and getting to know all the attendees.  There will also be people from the professional world.

Sound like a blast?

Here are the positions we are looking for:



Organize meetings and build relationships with other organizations.  Responsible for advertising iYouth events through the use of appropriate email listservs, social media, and other methods (including blogging)


Preparation and development of annual budget with the guiding input from iYouth members, maintaining the iYouth bank account, responsible for settling iYouth event related expenses incurred including reimbursement for personal expenses.  The treasurer may be a remote student but has to be local in order to process banking.

Event Coordinator

Responsible for planning, coordinating and executing events.  This includes scheduling of rooms, determining supplies needed, and working closely with the treasurer to determine an appropriate budget.


Writes meeting notes and works closely with the co-chairs.  Organizes current and new files and fills out documents when needed.

Online Representative

Generates ideas for creative ways to involve online students into our activities and events.  Works closely with the co-chairs to update social media.

If you have any questions, please feel free to direct them to our fantastic Officer, Blogger, and all around awesome iYouth gal,  Melody Leung:


Posted in Uncategorized

Full STEAM Ahead! An Interview with Heather

Can you imagine being on the job and then getting a 1 workday notice that you will be presenting a whole series of science programs?

Well that is what Heather, a relatively new local librarian, embraced and conquered. A part of her job is to fill-in to present programs on a short notice. She was overwhelmed at first but she knew it would be a great experience. It shows that she is open to change and flexible when under pressure. These are all qualities that interviewers want to hear about.

Her program was called, “Solstice Science” where she presented to school-aged children over Winter Break. She taught them vocabulary words (like solstice and equinox) and concepts about the rotation of the Earth, the role of the sun, and why we have seasons.

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Source: NASA

Want to see her in the news? Check out this newspaper article written about her program.


“Where did you start?”

With a bit of advice from my supervisor, I started with the description for the program that was already published on the fliers. My supervisor said bare bones was fine but I took it as a challenge and did everything in the description.

I was nervous because I have never presented in front of school-age children in this type of setting before.

First, I focused on the science that I know I understand already. To do this, I reflected back on my elementary school days and focused on what I liked about science class. I remember the fun activities, experiments, and creating things that moved or blew up. Those are the types of activities I wanted to create for these kids.

Then I focused on what age group I’m working with and what they have probably learned about already. Even if you want to challenge them, keeping it simple is key. Also, there needs to be a lot of visuals and movement so that you can keep their attention for the full hour.

After getting my bearings, I immediately browsed Pinterest for program ideas. kid part of the NASA website was very helpful too. They have full lesson plans that I pulled from; particularly about the seasons.

“How was your program organized?”

A Book: I started off with the story of Raven by Gerald McDermott.


It was about the old days and answered the question, “Why does sunlight disappear?” It’s about how the sun appeared after a long period of darkness – much like how the days get longer after the Winter Solstice. It is also a book with local roots and simple explanations through the telling of a story. This was a great segue into how people celebrate solstice.

Presentation: Next, I went through a PowerPoint that included images of Stonehenge and other man-made monuments to the movement of the sun in the sky. I explained how it marked the sun’s position during a time when we didn’t have clocks to tell the time of day. How could you tell when lunchtime was?

Movement Activity: After the presentation, I showed them actual science with a globe and flashlight. This was meant to show how the tilt of the Earth as it goes around the sun plays into why we have seasons. This is also where I incorporated vocabulary and a movement activity to help solidify the concepts presented. I had all the kids create a circle as we passed the globe around one child who was the sun. I threw in a curve ball and designated one child to be the north star to ensure that the tilt of the Earth was consistent.

Video: Then to reinforce the science, I showed a Youtube video. This helps explain the science behind the concepts in a way that may be more informative than what I can explain.

Game: For the ending, I closed off with a true or false game. Everyone got a paddle that had “true” on one side and “false” on the other. I had 3 categories of questions; about Raven, culture/celebration, and science. On the side, I had a felt board that had felt pieces I created just for this activity. I had each child come up and take a piece off the board and I would read it. These questions were based on the book I read or just on their base knowledge. Then the children can guess true or false in a low pressure environment. This was a big hit with the parents!

Before the program was over, I had 3 different activities for them to explore the concepts we just talked about.

  1. The first one was a static lamp aimed to a thermometer. This was meant to show them how direct sunlight we have in the summer months results in higher temperatures. I turned it on at the beginning of the activities and then the children read the temperature at the beginning, wrote it down, and then read it before they go to see how hot it got.
  2. The next activity was a sun dial made with a paper plate and a straw. This is a take-home activity where they check where the shadow of the straw moved throughout the day in the sun.
  3. The last craft was a diagram with 4 Earths. You put the sun in middle and the position of the Earth represent the seasons.

“How did it all go?”

I had a tremendous response from parents who were very thankful for the presentation. I also got many clarifying questions from them, as they had never realized why exactly we have seasons!

However, there are always ways to improve.

Technical issues:

There was 1 presentations (my first one!) where the audio for the video didn’t work. For the absence of audio, I had to dub the video from memory.

Focus problems:

Some groups I had just couldn’t sit still long enough for the video. For them, I just turned it off and moved on with a more interactive activity.

Potential change:

If I were to make some changes, I wouldn’t have shared the video and I would have changed one of the ending crafts. It was hard to understand the craft with the 4 earths but I didn’t have time to get supplies to change it. It would have been a lot more understandable with a 3D model instead.


“Do you have any advice for us?”

1. Learn from others: If you are interested in presenting programs, it is the most beneficial to watch others present. Everyone has their own style but getting ideas of things that work for them, gives you ideas for what can work for you.

2. Look Around: Stay up to date with trending concepts and program types. It’s never too late to compile information for programs that you may want to present someday.

Here’s a list of some blogs I follow for inspiration and ideas:

              Jbrary – an amazing amount of storytime songs

              Abby the Librarian

              Library Underground

              Storytime Katie

              ALA Think Tank Facebook Group – where people ask for advice and post jobs

3. Network. Getting advice from other librarians is huge in this profession. Their experience is invaluable and librarians are very open to sharing. Just ask!

4. Know yourself: Reflect from what you did and enjoy when you were in school. If you loved exploding experiments, find a low-key exploding experiment you can do indoors yourself. When you are excited, the kids are excited.


Speaking of exploding, Heather is currently really excited about presenting elephant toothpaste for preschoolers with water, hydrogen peroxide, soap, and yeast next.




Thank you for reading and thank you, Heather, for sharing your series!



This blog post was written by Melody Leung. She is a 1st year residential student interested in youth services. She loves public libraries and performing storytimes for children every chance she can get. Her studies include multicultural resources, entrepreneurial support, and outreach. On her spare time, she enjoys doing wushu (Chinese martial art), watching sit coms, and cooking.