What American Youth Librarians can Learn from the Danish Library System: Fun as a First Priority

Happy November, readers! Although summer is now just a glittering memory for most of us as fall settles in, I remain excited and inspired by the experiences I had while visiting Copenhagen, Denmark in late August and September.

Our travel group!

One of the most exciting and important portions of the trip was a visit to the city of Aarhus, the second largest city in Denmark and the home of Dokk1, the most innovative and unique library I have had the fortune to visit. Dokk1 (pronounced DOC-EN if you’re Danish, or DOC-ONE if you’re American – it means “the Dock” because of the building’s location on the harbor) perfectly represents the Danish value of fun and “hyyge” – coziness. The library, completed in 2015, was built to be the living room of the city, and they accomplish this particularly well with respect to their children’s collections and spaces.


Dokk1 at night on the harbor.

The children’s area in Dokk1 is imaginative, fun, spirited, and completely different from every American library I’ve visited. The area has dress-up clothes (not just in children’s sizes either!), climbing gyms, and video games. The library was relatively quiet when I visited, but the tour guide assured us that it can get quite loud, and they actually encourage that! The library is surrounded on all sides by a globally inspired playground, with different areas representing various countries of the world: a bear slide stands for Russia while a climbable eagle points toward the USA.



The bear of Russia, surrounded by happy Danes!


The space in Dokk1 works hard to be there for all the members of the Aarhus community, and they fully include children in that ideology. Children feel, from the cradle into adolescence, that they are accepted and welcomed into community spaces.  This is in contrast to what can often feel like repressive, quiet spaces in American public libraries.

So what can we learn as future children’s librarians – we may not have the benefit of working in Dokk1 or a similarly family- or children-friendly facility, but I believe that we can all incorporate the welcoming spirit, openness, and creative use of community space that Dokk1 has made so central to their mission. If we can take even just a small piece of that Danish ability to welcome noise and chaos into our otherwise orderly library lives, I think we can create a whole new generation of library-loving kids.


LGBTQ Middle Grade

Hi everyone! Hope your classes are going well. While you may not have time for pleasure reading at the moment, you might be able to squeeze in a middle grade book over the weekend or be able to refer to this list for any kids in your life! Middle grade that features LGBTQ characters is something I wish there was more of, and if you know of any others, please let us know!



The Other Boy
by M.G. Hennessey
“Twelve-year-old Shane Woods is just a regular boy. He loves pitching for his baseball team, working on his graphic novel, and hanging out with his best friend, Josh. But Shane is keeping something private, something that might make a difference to his teammates, to Josh, and to his new crush, Madeline. And when a classmate threatens to reveal his secret, Shane’s whole world comes crashing down. It will take a lot of courage for Shane to ignore the hate and show the world that he’s still the same boy he was before. And in the end, those who stand beside him may surprise everyone, including Shane.”
The Hidden Oracle (#1 in The Trials of Apollo series)
by Rick Riordan
“After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus’s favour. But Apollo has many enemies—gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go… an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.”


unnamed-2Princess Princess Ever After
by Katie O’Neill
“When the heroic princess Amira rescues the kind-hearted princess Sadie from her tower prison, neither expects to find a true friend in the bargain. Yet as they adventure across the kingdom, they discover that they bring out the very best in the other person. They’ll need to join forces and use all the know-how, kindness, and bravery they have in order to defeat their greatest foe yet: a jealous sorceress, who wants to get rid of Sadie once and for all. Join Sadie and Amira, two very different princesses with very different strengths, on their journey to figure out what happily ever after really means — and how they can find it with each other.”


Better Nate Than Ever
by Tim Federle
“Nate Foster has big dreams. His whole life, he’s wanted to star in a Broadway show. (Heck, he’d settle for *seeing* a Broadway show.) But how is Nate supposed to make his dreams come true when he’s stuck in Jankburg, Pennsylvania, where no one (except his best pal Libby) appreciates a good show tune? With Libby’s help, Nate plans a daring overnight escape to New York. There’s an open casting call for E.T.: The Musical, and Nate knows this could be the difference between small-town blues and big-time stardom.”


by Alex Gino
“When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl. George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy. With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.”


by Barbara Dee
This one sadly doesn’t come out until March 2017, but I’m just so excited about it! You can find pre-order links here!
“Mattie is chosen to play Romeo opposite her crush in the eighth grade production of Shakespeare’s most beloved play in this Romeo and Juliet inspired novel from the author of Truth or Dare. Mattie, a star student and passionate reader, is delighted when her English teacher announces the eighth grade will be staging Romeo and Juliet. And she is even more excited when, after a series of events, she finds herself playing Romeo, opposite Gemma Braithwaite’s Juliet. Gemma, the new girl at school, is brilliant, pretty, outgoing—and, if all that wasn’t enough: British. As the cast prepares for opening night, Mattie finds herself growing increasingly attracted to Gemma and confused, since, just days before, she had found herself crushing on a boy named Elijah. Is it possible to have a crush on both boys AND girls? If that wasn’t enough to deal with, things backstage at the production are starting to rival any Shakespearean drama! In this sweet and funny look at the complicated nature of middle school romance, Mattie learns how to be the lead player in her own life.”

Images and blurbs from Goodreads.

Resource: Children and Youth Services Best Practices

www-thankyoumsg-comGreetings from the end of October!  Today I wanted to share with you a new effort being put forth by the International Federation of Library Association’s (IFLA) Section on Libraries for Children and Young Adults.  Whew!  That’s a mouthful.  In August, this organization started a YouTube channel for short videos about “Best Practices” in Children and Youth services around the world.  They are hoping this channel acts as a “recipe book” for librarians.  You can see what other libraries are doing, and what works, in various places around the world.  There are only 12 videos so far, but I have found all of them to be at least mildly interesting.  My favorite is a video from a library in Finland, describing all the different types of programming they can do related to their garden, located on the library premises.  If you’re already working in a library, this could be a great resource for you if you’re feeling stuck when brainstorming new programs.  Or maybe you’re already working at a library and you have a fantastic program that you want to share with the rest of the world.  OR maybe you are not yet working in a library and just need to be inspired.  Either way, it is worth a look.

The YouTube channel can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLNbNYMA4VlILn3XhaPuOkwlIpTY-0zHvq

More info about the initiative can be found at: http://www.ifla.org/node/10425

What are some of your favorite children’s programming in libraries?

What to Expect When You’re Attending Our Open Meeting


Happy Friday, all!

Yesterday, we announced an iYouth online open meeting (see image above or post below for details). Today, I’ll be telling you a little more about what we’re hoping we can all get out of it. We want to make sure the programs we’re planning are things you’re interested in, so here’s a sneak peek at a few of the agenda items:

  • November Happy Hour
    We’d like to get together with a working children’s librarian in an informal environment and ask them questions about what they do on a regular basis.
  • Story Time Volunteer Program
    A few of you might have seen information about this on Facebook, but we want to see if anyone else is interested. We’re looking at working with a Seattle daycare to provide regular story times, and we need to know if you’d be interested in participating. This would even be complete with *some* training and resources!
  • December Study Break- Minecraft 101
    In early December, we want to have some fun and take a break from wanting to stab our eyes out over final projects (‘cause that time is coming…and it gets dark). Most of us also don’t know a whole lot about Minecraft, but since that’s what the kids are playing these days (for now), we figure we probably should! (…BTW, I feel so old typing that sentence…)

Keep these things in the back of your mind over the next few days, and bring us your thoughts at the meeting! Again, we want to pull together activities that you’ll enjoy because we want to hang out with you!…And we want to make sure we’re spending time planning things you’ll want to do. Basically, we’re being a little selfish and trying to build community at the same time… See you at the meeting!

PS- Zoom (the website we’re using for the open meeting) takes a minute or two to set up and does require you to download it to your computer. If you have any questions or concerns about set up, let us know!

Fall Open Meeting!


Hi friendly friends!  I hope everyone is enjoying their fall quarter.  On October 25th, iYouth is hosting its first open meeting of the year ONLINE and we hope all of you can attend.  We want to hear from you about what you want to see from iYouth, and we want to tell you about the great things we already have planned.

Date: October 25th
Time: 7PM – 8PM PST
Join us! https://uw-ischool.zoom.us/j/7742334499

We look forward to chatting with you!