Practice What You PLA

Okay, so I know that's a completely ungrammatical title, but I am a youth services librarian and therefore also a sucker for alliteration.  And puns.

It's been almost a week since I finished my first visit to PLA, and I'm still trying to process everything!  Oddly, the biggest revelations that I had were in regard to very small changes.  I don't have to necessarily overhaul what I do, but just tweak it.

Admin encouraged us to write down ten things that we plan to implement from PLA.  I'm going to put five of them here to hold myself accountable (and maybe inspire someone else to try something new!).

  • Reach out to schools and other groups where teens congregate.  This hasn't been easy to do in the past, but this past week I've been cold-calling teachers like crazy.  It's not comfortable, but it needs to be done.  At the opening session, Bryan Stevenson spoke.  He was mind-blowingly inspirational, and I am generally not one to go in for inspiration.  Several times, I had to choke back tears.  One thing he challenged us to do was to be uncomfortable.  That's when you grow and you see things differently.  Check out his TED Talk here.  
  • Don't be afraid to fail.  That's kind of a general goal, but I'm a massive perfectionist.  When I was in school, an A- was practically The End of All Things.  I don't like being wrong, but I'm working on that.  I've started to find that being wrong is okay, because when you do something right, you feel as if you've accomplished so much more.  Up until recently, the culture where I was/am didn't accept failure.  Now it does.  So.  I will fail and I will get back up and I will keep going.
  • Make videos!  Right now we do Facebook posts and Tweets, but that's about it.  I want us to have a Vine account and an Instagram feed where we can post short book talks and clips of what we do at the library.  Teens need to see that we are fun.  I can tell you that I shocked and then delighted everyone in my department today when I blasted "Happy" and danced with wild, clapping, Pharrell-hat-crazy-level abandon.
  • Do more lock-ins!  The way-awesome program I attended called "Beyond Duct Tape" gave me so many ideas which I will shamelessly borrow from the awesome librarians who presented.  They all talked about the success of lock-ins.  We're doing our first one as part of the National Teen Lock-In on August 1st (check it out here!).  There will be pizza, popcorn, and copious amounts of carbonated beverages.  Also hide-and-seek and minute-to-win-it.  W00t!
  • Shamelessly promote the library.  The pre-conference session, hosted by Rebekkah Aldrich, was all about marketing.  One quick tip the presenter gave was that if you get a compliment on your service or your library, just say, "Thanks!  I hope you'll tell a friend."  That's it!  It's so easy and quick!  I can do that!
My eternal gratitude goes out to Angie Manfredi (, Kelly Jensen (, Katie Salo (, and Andrea Sowers ( for giving me so many ideas at your kick-butt teen programming session!

So.  How do you #pla?


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