Tag Archives: programming

I still like D&D at my library

…in case you were wondering.

But seriously, I thought I would update my library Dungeons & Dragons life for you all so you know how it’s going. Also, I got a message from someone on Goodreads – hello new friend! – who asked me about my experiences. She was just asking for some general tips for running D&D campaigns for tweens/teens. I’m not an expert by any means and I get stuff wrong sometimes, but this is also something that anyone can do. It obviously helps if you’ve played D&D or some other roleplaying system before, are moderately organized, and like having fun, but those aren’t requirements.

Well, you should like fun. D&D is very fun.


We usually have anywhere from 8-10 players and 10 is just A LOT of kids. As far as adventures I’ve used mostly pre-made – with lots of tweaks and changes – from the Dungeon Masters Guild via Wizards of the Coast. You can buy adventures for cheap and they are pretty good! I tweak them a bit by adding in more combat and simplifying the story. My teens like killing stuff, what can I say?

Anyway, here are some miscellaneous thoughts about DMing (Dungeon Mastering aka running the game):

-Be sure to know your story really well and be ready to either improvise or fall back on prepared side stories when your players do something completely unexpected. They will, because that’s the fun of D&D. I also like to have the teens summarize the last session but also try to take notes.

-Make sure you have a few copies of the Players Handbook around for kids/you to look stuff up. Your players will ask lots of questions. I don’t think that you need to know everything off the top of your head, but they want to know quickly. Try and review the classes and mechanic beforehand. I also like to put tabs in the Player’s Handbook for frequent sections like races, classes, weapons, spells, and leveling up. I also just discovered the D&D 5e Compendium from Roll 20 which is great for quick reference. Its so helpful!

-Always make sure to have plenty of dice, scrap paper, blank character sheets, and pencils around. I often have new players drop in right before we start so I have some pre-made characters as well. Also snacks. Snacks are key.

-My friend and DM for one of my current campaigns told me about DM David’s imitative tents. They are great – I love them! He has some for creatures/monsters too.

-The Dungeon Masters Guild has a lot of stuff on the website: pre-made characters, cheap adventures, and help. I’m sure there are people on there who know way more about this than I do.

-I definitely fudge the rules a little bit to make it more fun and because rules isn’t really what my group is playing for. They are into the story and the adventure. (And the murder of monsters and sometimes innocent NPCs. Did I mention the murder?) I tell them that if they want to be super picky about tracking how much food they have, they can, but that I’m not especially interested in that level of minutiae. I promise to not let them starve.

-My kids are also super concerned about things being really fair – as are many kids – so I try to be really aware of that when it comes to any rule bending or treasures giving out or inspiration. If you fudge the rules for one player, make sure to give the other players similar opportunities to get a second chance. Also, if they start complaining that no one is attacking them, I will have the creature attack them next. That’s what you get! Don’t complain!

-Finally, the biggest challenge for me is making sure that the kids aren’t talking . . . ok SHOUTING . . over each other and making sure everyone is getting a chance to talk/share ideas. One way I need to try out is to have a party leader. Basically one player will tell the DM what they want to do as a group in a roleplaying situation or if they are setting up a trap or something. Then you don’t have 8 kids talking to you at once! Or you could do to “talking stick/dice/ruler” whatever and only the person who has that can talk. Either one could work though I admit I haven’t really tried for various reasons.

So that’s how D&D has been going. We have the best time! How do you game at your library?

(Wait you don’t game at your library? Get with it.)

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Summer Reading aka the most magical time of the year

Ok, so when I say “magical” I really mean SUPER BUSY. It’s great because I swear all of our books get checked out over the summer, I see so many more teens reading and so many more just in the library in general, and it’s . . . summer. Winter isn’t crushing our souls and in New England, we’ve got to take advantage of the warmth while we can. We get like 4 months. Then misery.

But summer reading this year is extra busy because my coworker Rebecca is leaving to take an assistant director job (sad!) and because I got engaged (happy!). Between solo teen room-ing and potential wedding planning, my professional and personal life just got a bit more crazy. It’s ok! I will make it!

If you want to see what my library is doing for summer reading this year, take a look! We’re not going with the sports theme but doing “magic” instead as per teens’ requests and we’re doing a BINGO board for prizes instead of a more traditional prize program. Teens get a prize for every row and entry to the grand prize drawing – some Kindle Fires – if they complete the whole thing!

Magic Summer-2

We’re also doing really fun programs like more D&D – spoiler alert: the kids love it and middle school boys are murderous monsters – craft programs, using our BreakoutEDU box to create a Harry Potter adventure* and more!

What else is happening? Lots of new staff, Doug and I visited Montreal for a few days, Pokemon Go has taken over the library, and I’m still writing at WWAC. Here’s some recent articles about learning to try new things aka gaming and how much I hate summer reading lists.

This summer is going to be crazy what with being short staffed and planning a wedding so I’m not even going to try to lie and say I’ll be better about posting. There’s a lot happening. So I guess I’ll just see you when I see you?

Don’t walk into traffic trying to catch any Pokemon, friends. It’s a dangerous world.

*I should really start writing that….

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The post-summer reading “lull”

Now that Summer Reading is over and the lull after summer reading is over, it’s into Planning Time now. Yup, Capital Letter-type Planning. Since we don’t start our regularly schedule programs until October, September has been a bit of a catch up month. I feel like I barely did any collection development during July and August, and I definitely wasn’t thinking about fall programming or spring. I was just trying to get through the next five programs we had that week! So busy!

So now Clare and I have been talking about and working on all sorts of things: outreach to some community groups like the youth center in town and the Andover chapter of A Better Chance which seems like a really cool program; collection development is back in a more regular rotation; trying to think ahead to Teen Read Week; working on some small Banned Books programming for the end of the month; kicking around the idea of a regional Comic-con with some other libraries; the Teen Poetry Contest in the spring; our VolunTeen Advisory Board; and more.

I’m the most excited about the prospect of a library Comic-Con. As you may know I’m pretty nerdy. And, as evidenced by the popularity of our Random Fandom Summer Reading program, so are a lot of our teens. I mean nerdy in a really good way! They have books, shows, movies, games, and more that they really like and get really excited about. I think that’s awesome. It would be so fun to host a longer program, like on a Saturday, which times for gaming, cosplay, trivia, crafts, and demonstrations all related to different fandoms and interests. It’d be like Random Fandom Lite!

I already have a costume for Comic-Con! A variant Starbuck from BSG who actually looks exactly like me! Brilliant! (Also pictured, Little Red Riding Hood and Where's Ralph Waldo Emerson?)

I already have a costume for Comic-Con! A variant Starbuck from BSG who actually looks exactly like me! Brilliant! (Also pictured, Little Red Riding Hood and Where’s Ralph Waldo Emerson?)

Even more exciting than the prospect of a Merrimack Valley Comic-Con is another program a few of us are working on: library-hosted pub trivia! It’s the dream! We are investigating options of hosting it in the library (with no alcohol, sadly) or at a restaurant nearby in town. Hopefully we could bring in that hard to get demographic of real world Young Adults (the ones in the 20s and 30s) and show them the library is cool! Or maybe not “cool.” Is “cool” cool anymore? I don’t know. Just get them into the library.

Other than planning, I’ve been having a good time checking out the #fyaphotoaday Instagram project put on by Forever Young Adult. Lots of fun and lots of pretty bookshelves!

What are your Septembers like? Busy with back to school or do you get a little break to enjoy the cooling weather?


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May was crazy

I’m back and hopefully for good! My plan is to get back to a regular blogging schedule – perhaps not to the lofty heights of twice a week to which I once aspired and perhaps achieved a handful of times – but to a once a week goal. May has been a really busy and transitional month for me: I moved to a new apartment, had to buy a new car (somewhat unexpectedly as my old car Hester, may she rest in pieces, decided to stop driving in the rain), and it was the second month at my new job.

There is something about the second month of a new job. It’s like the second day after a hard workout: the first day after you feel ok and wake up thinking, “Oh this isn’t so bad, I can do this all the time!” And the second day you wake and you think, “Sweet lords of Kobol, my body is trying to murder me from the inside out!”

It’s not the the second month of my new job was painful because I’m really enjoying the teens, the staff, and the environment, but the honeymoon phase of wonderment starts to fade a bit. I am feeling more aware of what my responsibilities are, navigating the new personalities of patrons and staff, and just generally digging in more deeply to the job. I actually prefer getting to this stage because then I can feel less like I have no idea what I’m doing. Being the noobie is generally no fun. But now that I’m two months in, I’m feeling more comfortable and while I definitely don’t know everything, I’m getting better everyday. Thank goodness for my YA colleague, Clare* because between the two of us, we generally seem to keep the department functioning.

One thing I did try to do during May (other than move, buy a car**, and work) was read. After a bit of an April reading slump, I read some great books in May. E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars is at the top of that May list. It’s got a rich New England family, a private island, and lots of SECRETS. I read it in about a day and a half. It’s definitely one of those you can’t put down until you get to the big reveal at the end.

I also listened to Pilgrim’s Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska FrontierThis is an intriguing, and ultimately sickening, story of a family who based their way of life almost solely on the Bible and Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. This, along with some megalomania led to clashes with the National Park Service and a tough story for a family to endure. Very interesting and infuriating, but a good read.

I really wanted to like Rose Under Fire more, but it just wasn’t Code Name Verity. CNV is one of the best books about female friendship I’ve ever read and it will break your heart. And a great historical fiction novel about WWII, that covers a part of the war I didn’t really know existed: women pilots and operatives in Britain and France. Rose Under Fire is sort of related to Code Name Verity as it has a few of the same characters, but it’s just not the same.

There are a few more I may talk about in the next few weeks, right now I’m reading Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson and enjoying it. Now off to work to finish up summer reading plans and get ready for our Fault in Our Stars movie release party this Friday. Are you going to see the movie on Friday? I may go later on in the weekend/week. Going the night it opens might be too much like Friday afternoons in the Teen Room….


*That’s right, we have TWO Young Adult librarians! It’s insanely awesome!

**It’s super fancy to me (2012 Honda Civic) so I keep calling it the Spaceship/Spaceship/sometimes the Heart of Gold, even though it does not look like a running shoe.

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The reason I go to work everyday

It’s not because I’m supposed to, or because they pay me to, or because it’s glamorous. It’s because I love working with my patrons, and my teen patrons especially. Yesterday I had a drop-in games and crafts program in our teen space. I had a handful of kids not traveling for school vacation and whose parents were not deterred by a sudden snow squall. I put out stuff for rainbow loom bracelets, origami paper, duct tape, and embroidery floss, as well as a smattering of board games. A few teens played “Spongebob Life” – a perennial favorite – and others make rainbow loom bracelets. We chatted about school, all of the snow, and then totally derailed the game of Life by fan-girling and fan-boying over various YA movie trailers.

Game and craft prep....

Game and craft prep….

First I had to see The Maze Runner trailer, then Divergent, and then we watched The Fault in our Stars about three times. And maybe I teared up each time seeing Augustus and Hazel.

I got to recommend a few books to read and invited them to Book Babble, our monthly book group. I did have to assure them we didn’t talk about the book the entire time, that sometimes we talked a lot about “Sherlock” or “Downton Abbey” or “Once Upon a Time.” They seemed relieved.

Anyway, this is the reason I go to work: to hang out with these teens, to talk about books, to feel like I might be doing something for them. Even if it’s just watching movie trailers, eating cookies, and being an adult that doesn’t hate them or think they are annoying. I think that’s a good reason.

And sometimes I get paid to do crafts. That’s a pretty good reason to go to work.

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