REVIEW: Stand Off

Stand Off Andrew SmithTitle: Stand Off
Author/Illustrator: Andrew Smith
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781481418294
For ages: 13+
Type: Young Adult
Year: September 2015

It’s Ryan Dean’s final year at Pine Mountain and it should be a celebration. Instead, it is causing nothing but pain. His rugby coach assigned him the role as captain, replacing his dead best friend, Joey. If that didn’t make matters worse, Ryan Dean is rooming with a 12-year old claustrophobic freshman named Sam Abernathy. Ryan Dean’s drawings haven’t been giving him relief like they used to. He’s paranoid that N.A.T.E (Next Accidental Terrible Experience) is looming near. Does a visit from Joey’s brother, Nico, change anything? Will Ryan Dean ever enjoy his final year of high school?

I received Stand off an advance copy from Simon & Shuster Canada and it did not disappoint. Sequels are hit or miss and Winger just blew my mind. This one was a hit. Ryan Dean’s struggles over the death Joey are realistic. Andrew Smith has a knack for merging humour and sympathy in such a natural way that Ryan Dean’s life seems, well, natural. The comics weren’t as enjoyable as the last, but suited Ryan Dean’s struggles. A brilliant sequel.

Evaluating Children and Young Adult Programming

It doesn’t matter if it’s a simple storytime or a complex spy camp program, evaluation is a necessary tool to improve library services to children and young adults. Every program I deliver, I do a self-evaluation and an evaluation from the program attendees. I firmly believe that feedback, good and bad, helps me grow as a librarian. It also helps me develop programs that kids and teens want to attend.

Self-Evaluation

We’re busy librarians and once one program is completed, we’re on to the next one! It is important  to do the self-evaluation preferably the same day as the program or the day after. That way it is fresh in your heads! I also encourage my co-workers to do the same.

I created a Program Evaluation form for Programmers. I print it out and staple it to all my program outlines and then file them in a binder. This is a great way to keep track of previous programs and what you can change up for next time.

It’s important to be thorough, but also be critical. There’s always room to grow.

Evaluations from Program Participants

Always seek approval from management before you hand out any kind of evaluation form to the public. It should be approved from above before you distribute it from below.

I have a habit of doing one-off programs such as Play Date with a Book. I ran the adult version of this program in February for Valentine’s Day and I regret not putting in survey to see if they actually enjoyed the books I selected!

To get feedback from children and teens, a little bribery does the trick. Here are some simple tips:

For children:

  • Offer them ballots for a prize or give them some stickers (we always have leftovers from Summer Reading Club!) in exchange for filling out surveys
  • KISS – KEEP IT SIMPLE SILLY!  Include no more than three questions and make them closed-ended (yes or no) rather than open-ended (sentence style)

Survey

For teens:

  • Offer community service hours for participating in surveys
  • Open forum works best. Get them to be critical.

Jbrary Features “Rock the Library” in Canadian Libraries Spotlight

Head on over to one of my favourite blogs Jbrary to see my feature on low-budget programming!

I first started out as a Children’s Librarian at Windsor Public Library and our budget was tiny. Stretching a dime into a dollar is my specialty. Programming doesn’t have to be expensive. Head on over to Jbrary to see my feature and some tips on how to run low-budget programming at your library!

Bullet Journaling Tutorial

Where would I be without my bullet journal? Between planning of a new library branch to Summer Reading Club to countless programs and daycare visits – I need to be organized. And with over 1000 program participants in the month of July alone, I need a system that works. So, I heard about the bullet journal trend and I decided to give it a go. And it has become a lifesaver.

What is Bullet Journaling?

Bullet Journaling is an analog system for the digital age. It lets you create lists, events, notes, and it highlight your monthly calendar. Plus, it’s fun and you can make it super colourful if you need to!  View the tutorial video below.

I purchased my journal at Staples. One side is lined, the other side is squared. I opted for this one because it is slightly cheaper than the Moleskin squared notebook. Plus, they were sold out. Win-Win!

Even though there’s an index, I find it easier to label each month. I even have a little place to put my fitness schedule and water intake.

If you’re a chronic list maker, like myself, then I would give bullet journaling a try!