Thank you so much, Christie, for being here with us today!
TxSandS: You run an amazing teen book blog! Thank you for helping spread the word about books for kids! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do, and who or what inspires you?
ChristieG: I've pretty much grown up in and around libraries- my mom was a library aide in my hometown library, and I grew up volunteering there since I was about 8. My husband (That Guy) and I found each other our second semester of college, but it took me a while longer to really find myself- from elementary school through most of undergraduate school I was concentrated on working on Mission Control for NASA! After I lost my way in college (I had wanted to be an aerospace and aeronautics engineer until I hit junior year), I got a job in one of the smaller niche university libraries on campus and rediscovered my "happy". I focused my MLS and career into a path that focuses on youth services, especially teens, and am very fortunate that my current job allows me to be manager (in spirit if not in official title) as well as teen services in a highly popular library for youth. I am also blessed in that every job that I've worked at has let me stay working with youth- not everyone who climbs up the ranks in the library world is that lucky. I am extremely lucky in that I fell in with Karen Jensen, who started Teen Librarian Toolbox, and when I started to express a desire to share what I was doing on a broader scale (outside of listservs and ALA Connect), she and the others at TLT welcomed me with open arms.
I'm inspired by a lot of different things, but mainly the kids and teens that I work with, and my own nieces and nephews. They keep the energy up, and the positivity flowing, and can just make my day when things seem down.
In 8th grade, reading
TxSandS: What were your goals when you started blogging, and how has that vision changed now that some time has gone by?
ChristieG: When I started, I originally just wanted to share what programs I was doing on a larger scale. I work in a unique library and have license to do some things that you might not do in a typical library setting- we're part of a community building, so we have my library, a separate computer lab, two community programming rooms, a game room (with a pool table, ping pong table, and a big screen TV, as well as smaller TVs for gaming equipment), and a recreation center with a gym on the bottom floor and exercise equipment and track running on the top. Because of that, our demographics are extremely different from a traditional library- approximately 90% of our patron base are youth 17 and under, so we do a lot of programming. I do lock-ins twice a year as reading incentives, and those that do the lock-ins have had their reading scores go up at the schools. We (the library staff) help with homework after school, and become part of these kids' family- we're invited to birthday parties and family events, and I've been invited to high school graduations every year for the past 4 years. So I thought that I'd share what I was doing, and see if it would help someone else.
Now on TLT, we're sharing viewpoints and having discussions about how to keep sane, and what real life is like, engaging readers and trying to encourage others to do the same within their workplace and within the blogsphere- as well as sharing programs and book reviews. I think that we're doing good work, and I hope that we're making good points.
When Christie started dating That Guy, her husband
TxSandS: What has been the biggest surprise since you've entered the world of books for kids and teens?
ChristieG: The changing landscape and how much it seems that publishers are letting adults influence everything. There seems to be a huge push for adults reading YA books as a good marketing trend, and for that to influence what's being published and how to market and influence young adult materials- so much that now we're hearing that New Adult sections should be ages 14-36 instead of 18-25, and that ebook publishers are saying that we may not need ebook YA designations or that YA doesn't need genres. It seems that teens are being pushed out of their own section of books because adults have discovered that hey, there's good stuff here- and that's what we need teen advocates for.
From the Mustacheyoutoread display and post
TxSandS: How do you see reading changing for teens in the next couple years? What challenges do you see? And what can we do to help?
ChristieG: I can see there being a larger digital divide, with more and more books being published only digitally, those that don't have access to ereaders not being able to read those materials. I know that the kids that I work with would never think to have an ereader unless the schools had won a grant, and even then, the tablets have to be back at the end of the year.
We're also having increasing scheduled teens, which means librarians are balancing trying to have programs and services that fit into the majority of the best scheduling times while balancing against the needs of the rest of the system. We're also balancing still more system and funding cuts, and teens seem to get the short end of all the sticks.
I think that publishing in general needs to work on diversity within YA, not only gender diversity and racial diversity but GLBTQ diversity as well. Boys do read (come to my library if you doubt), but a majority of books that could be marketed to boys and girls have girlie covers which will turn off boy readers. Or the covers don't match the character's diversity. Or the teens can't find themselves inside the books, so they feel more out-of-place.
During Space Academy when Christie was going to be an aeronautical engineer
TxSandS: Would you consider yourself a Sweetheart or a Scoundrel?
ChristieG: Can I call myself a hybrid? LOL I would consider myself a Sweetheart because I LOVE working with youth and teens, am passionate about teen literature and rights, and sharing books and programs and ideas with teen librarians, but I have definitely a scoundrel sense of humor. I keep NERF guns in my office, will run a Quidditch match or a lock-in or any other type of off beat program in a heart beat, and have been known to do midnight showings of teen shows at the drop of a hat.
TxSandS: Thank you so much, Christie, for being here with us and for all you do!
Christie Gibrich has been in and out of libraries since she was 8, and was volunteering at the town library where her mom worked. Since then, she's worked her way through library world as a volunteer, student assistant, page, clerk, youth services librarian, and assistant manager- all the while keeping her snark and sense of humor intact, if not her sanity. Christie holds an Bachelor's of Arts from the University of Illinois-Urbana, and received her MLS from Texas Woman's University, where she tailored her studies around youth and teen services. She's served on a number of committees through the American Library Association, including YALSA's 2011 Midwinter Institute The Whole Library Experience, as well as The Amelia Bloomer Project (Social Responsibilities Round Table) and The Rainbow Project (Social Responsibilities Round Table & Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Round Table). She is the incoming chair (2013-2014 Chair) for The Rainbow Project.
Christie is overjoyed to be working with Karen Jensen and the others at Teen Librarian Toolbox (TLT) to share their passion of working with teens with other teen services specialists. From programs to book reviews to current ideas floating around the blogsphere, Christie definitely seems to have an opinion.
Christie is currently the Senior Librarian at the Bowles Life Center Branch Library in Grand Prairie, Texas. A jack-of-all-trades position, she works with patrons of all ages in collection development and programming, and has the unique opportunity to work in a combined community building that serves as a neighborhood focal point. She is currently serving on the The Rainbow Project, and will be running the meetings this Midwinter in Seattle (be sure to stop by and see how they work- meetings are open to all registrants!)
Her favorite reads change from day to day and week to week, but her favorite authors include Laini Taylor, Rae Carson, Chris Crutcher, Scott Westerfeld, and Cory Doctorow, while her genres run towards science fiction and fantasy with a bit of mystery worked in. You can also usually find her at midnight premiers of any graphic novel/comic book based or science fiction movie, so come May, haunt the movie theater for her.
If you know of someone who would make a great Featured Sweetheart, please let us know! The best part? If you nominate someone, we'll send you a $5 Starbucks gift card :)