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Fun Library Workshops for Suburban Teens

This blog post came to my attention in a roundabout way and I’m glad it did. It’s about a teen workshop supposedly from the Jericho Public Library on Long Island. I say supposedly only because it doesn’t say the name of the library on the picture of the flyer and I can’t verify it on the Jericho library website. It’s not on their calendar of events, nor is it on their teen programs flyer. Unfortunately, the teen program flyer is for March / April, so it’s not much help in general. However, it’s a pity that I’ve already missed the class on scrapbooking and the Rock Band 2 event, not to mention "Anything in a Blanket." The description: "Not just pigs anymore – what else can you put in a blanket and eat?" The possible answers beggar the imagination.

But anyway, here’s the description of the workshop: "Graffiti has tagged everything — subways, walls, cars & more.  Now its your turn to create graffiti." I’m also a little suspicious about the lack of an exclamation point at the end. Maybe you can show up Wednesday July 8th and take the workshop, though. I’ll be busy preparing for ALA, or I’d find a way to make it there.

When a lot of libraries are hurting for funds and closing around the country, it’s nice to know that the Jericho library has time for frivolities like this. It’s also helpful for the community, because with an estimated median income of $126,486 and a median house or condo value of $825,236, Jericho probably doesn’t have enough graffiti. These suburbanites don’t know what they’re missing, but they will once the teens of Jericho go forth from the library skilled in the art form of urban blight.

The blogger speculates on other possible classes, but I don’t think she goes far enough. "How to TP your neighbor’s Trees" is just still so…suburban. Maybe that’s what folks do out in the sticks of Long Island, but graffiti – that’s big city stuff, and if the library wants to move on up, they really need to work harder. How about these workshops?

"Annoy people while pretending to clean their windows! Nothing say FUN like a squeegee man!"

"Get people to leave you alone by walking quickly while gesturing wildly and intensely talking to yourself."

"Panhandling – it’s not for the homeless anymore!"

"Hey, teens! Need a creative way to pass the time and pick up some extra money? With a switch-blade knife and a can-do attitude, the library will show you how!"

"Girls, turn those tight skirts and willing hands into profits – just like teens in the big city!"

"Boosting cars looks really cool when Nicholas Cage does it."

"Don’t waste that enormous allowance on shoes and booze. Increase it through loansharking!"

"Trashy streets will shake those suburban blues!"

"Public urination has tagged everything — subways, walls, cars & more. Now it’s your turn."

These are just a few workshops they could offer at the Jericho library. The teen librarian probably couldn’t help with all of these, but they have some experts in the City who might be willing to come out there for a price. Feel free to offer more suggestions to help out the teen librarians out there.




  1. My personal favorite – “Bring a homey to the Yacht Club.”

  2. TeenLibraryLady says:

    If this program is garnering such interest from Annoyed Librarians everywhere, then imagine how many teens it will bring into the library. That is the point, isn’t it?

    I can’t fathom that the teen librarian is bringing kids around town to tag buildings. More likely they’re creating art on paper in the library. Which sounds pretty cool to me. And budget-friendly. In fact, I might steal that idea. I’ll send you the flyer.

    And while we’re at it, why don’t you lay off the other programs Ms. Urtnowski created? AL, what, pray tell, is an appropriate teen program? I’m sure Ms. Urtnowski would be more than happy to leave her programming to you from now on.

  3. I thought I’d just recommended some programs? Panhandling, public urination – talk about budget friendly! Feel free to steal those ideas, and be sure to send me the flyers.

  4. AL, please just go back to packing your martini glasses and what not for your comped trip to the ALA Conference.

    Unless you want to go run one, shut up about public libraries.


  5. Oh, whatever. It’s an art project. You’re just complaining about Elvis swinging his hips too much.

  6. Because of course unless you run a public library, you can have nothing worthwhile to say about one. Does that rule work with everything? Unless you run the government, you have nothing worthwhile to say about it? Unless you run the post office, you have no right to complain about slow service? Unless you run Walmart, nothing you say about it matters? Is that the idea?

  7. thelibrarygirl says:

    I’m confused. Isn’t Ed Hardy a tattoo artist? Now that’s a library program for teens.

    They could have gone with “Wanna be the next Banksy?” At least that would make the criminal aspect of graffiti less compelling by making it a potential program on social commentary through art.

  8. Dan Kleinman of says:

    What with all those spray paint cans being used, is the library contributing to the ozone hole and global warming?

  9. Yes, Academic think they understand Public Libraries but they don’t. And since they are always telling us how we don’t know anything about running academic libraries and in fact don’t count as librarians they should practice what they preach. Get the plank out of your own eye first.

  10. AlwaysWantd2B says:

    TheLibraryGirl – are you proposing “Teen Tatt Day at the Library?” One could add the tag line “Why wait until you are 18 and drunk”.

  11. TralfazB says:

    I’m with the others on this one. AL, lay off the public libraries trying something new to get a teenager in the building. Seriously, I envy your kidless academic environment (although I remember the juvenile faculty when I used to work there) but you’re really letting your snark blind you.

  12. Some guy says:

    AL, you are nothing but smug contrarianism for its own sake. Your snark was once amusing, it now grows tiresome, especially in these times that you seem to be so concerned about, yet you are well insulated from. I shall now ignore everything you write from now on. Goodbye.

  13. AL is one of those academic librarians who exist only for the “their collection”. Heaven help the professor or god forbid an undergrad asking the AL for help.

    They would have a martini tossed in their face seconds before the office door slammed shut.

  14. Apparently AL is not up on the art world scene. There are some great graffiti artists.

  15. The AL rocks says:

    AL, your sense of humor is awesome. You usually always hit it on the nail when it comes to diagnosing the ills or non-ills of public libraries.

    However, I am always amazed at the fact that so many resentful, prudish, anti-AL’ers read this blog and comment so angrily about everything you write.

    If ya’ll weren’t annoyed librarians too at heart, you all wouldn’t be reading this blog. So lighten up and shut up and give the AL her right to rant and joke about whatever she wants to rant about. Jeez! Ever heard of a sense of humor or even an opinion, folks?

  16. My god, AL rocks is right.

    The AL spouts nothing but truth and $hits golden MARC records.

    I am so sorry I ever dared to question her every knowing wisdom. I think from now on I will submit every problem I encounter to the Delphic talents of the Great AL>

  17. Pinpoint says:

    AL – this debate is from 1983. Graffiti now includes mainstream works, such as the well known portrait of our current president by Shepard Fairey. I hope you’re not responsible for the 700s at your anonymous library, you drunk.

  18. Pinpoint says:

    or any other ignorant librarian posting here :-/

  19. Uh, take a look at the stuff AL is spouting. I guess it takes one prude to know another.

  20. ChickenLittle says:

    I for one work in the public library system and I think AL is right on the money! Many of these programs to “get people in” are ridiculous time consuming wastes! They never work, and if they do, the results never last! Public library systems are the same everywhere, there is a strong core of heavy users (who have no other life) and a dabbling of occasional users. Any attempts to change this balance does not work. Let’s just stay with what we do best….books and information, leave the graffiti to the local art galleries if they wish to sponsor it.

  21. TeenLibraryLady says:

    ChickenLittle, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  22. Auntie Nanuuq says:

    “Teen Tatt Day at the Library?” We have had Teen Henna Tatt day, it was fun! It was so popular that we’ll be having one again for our YA Summer Reading Program.

  23. Good grief. No wonder nobody wants to become a librarian any more. You’re all nuts. This is also why I never read blogsht. I have a job; it involves work; it doesn’t involve graffiti tattoos and it doesn’t allow me to spend time dissing my anonymous colleagues. Why I let my co-worker direct me to this nonsense is beyond me, but then again, she watches reality shows on TV and actually goes bowling.

  24. fitzie4 says:

    AL, why don’t you reveal yourself so we can all finally see what a coward looks like. Unfortunately, the teen librarian whom you have publicly smeared must deal with the ramifications of your inane comments without the ability to hide. It might be funny when you rip on general library policies, conferences and stereotypes, but not when you single out a young, new librarian. You owe her an apology and Library Journal should be ashamed for publishing you on its main page.

  25. I Like Books says:

    Speaking of public urination, a guy I know saw someone in “the city” urinating while he was walking. And he didn’t get it on himself.

  26. “Speaking of public urination, a guy I know saw someone in “the city” urinating while he was walking. And he didn’t get it on himself.”

    I love coming here to read all the pithy comments.

  27. another f-ing librarian says:

    the problem with the cool teen graffiti idea, is that there’s a kind of heisenbergian principle governing ‘cool ideas’ and their relationship to ‘librarians’. any idea, no matter how cool it might be, becomes uncool the instant it is suggested by a librarian. unfortunate, but true. don’t look at me; i’m not in charge of the laws of physics.

  28. I think my favorite thing is reading about people complaining about anonymity while using bland annoymous screen names. Unless Fitize4 is your real name?

  29. Many of you seem to be missing AL’s point: that a library in a wealthy area seems to be trivializing urban issues like graffiti without considering the socio-economic ramifications of gangs who tag, what the genre of street art means in a variety of arenas, etc. to create a “fun” event. (Which is why her list is funny.) It can be fun–but it should be contextualized. Perhaps that’s not the case, perhaps the librarian there will address it. AL pointed out there wasn’t a lot of information about the event.

  30. fitzie4 says:

    Dear Bland Boring BETH,
    First of all, if you are going to criticize my name, spell it correctly. Secondly, try spelling “anonymous” correctly. Finally, I am not complaining about anonymity, I am pointing out that the identity of the teen librarian whom AL is ripping apart is easily obtained, whereas AL hides behind her blog. AL puts no thought into how he/she is affecting those she is singling out.

  31. 8b6pb I love coming here to read all the pissy comments. I think it takes a lot of talent to walk down the street, peeing all the way without getting one single drop on one’s clothing. I can barely do that standing still before a urinal.

  32. Lots of complaints here about how the AL has “smeared” the librarian who came up with the graffiti class. The blog this links to is about the “dumbest things people do.” Why not go attack that person?

  33. Social Librarian says:

    “Apparently AL is not up on the art world scene. There are some great graffiti artists.”

    “Graffiti has tagged everything — subways, walls, cars & more. Now its your turn to create graffiti.”

    I wonder how much you’ll praise the graffiti “artist” who tags your car. The workshop seems like it’s for all the well off suburban teens who listen to hip-hop and think about how cool it would be to leave the boring suburbs and live in the ghetto. This workshop cries out for a class analysis. I don’t see how anyone is smeared or mocked except urban youth.

  34. “8b6pb I love coming here to read all the pissy comments. I think it takes a lot of talent to walk down the street, peeing all the way without getting one single drop on one’s clothing. I can barely do that standing still before a urinal.”

    Women librarians tend to have that trouble.

  35. I’ve always wondered AL – what is the point in typing in the characters ‘Before submitting this form…’

  36. If the librarian is advocating tagging of suburban moms’ SUVs with graffiti, that would be wrong. But, somehow I doubt that is what is happening.

    Graffiti is not exclusively a hip hop culture phenomenon. The history of graffiti is quite old, and is considered art by some. Maybe the librarian is opening their eyes to that–I don’t know.

  37. Jericho isn’t in the sticks..

  38. Here I sit
    in the library’s can.
    Reading all the “missives”
    from some wag’s pen.
    Graffiti is here
    and keeps me going.

    Burma Shave.

  39. Typihg the letters in before submitting stop bots from spamming blogs with crap that isn’t already part of the crap being discussed.

  40. Thank you Captain Obvious.

    Giving out information like that must be why you went to liberry school.

  41. ohforpetesake says:

    How is it that when we translate items that are in our collections, into a program, all of the sudden it’s a big waste of money?

    Teens are SO easy to pick on. They aren’t cute, the aren’t voters, (well the under 18 folks aren’t voters) some are as big as adults, but they aren’t adults and yet we often expect them to behave better than adults.

    I think the martinis have pickled your brain AL, stick to the bigger picture subjects of the field the “Get off my Lawn” posts are getting old.

  42. ohforpetesake says:

    Wait, wait, I see the flaw in my logic…if we did programs based on our collection our calendars would read like a Quentin Tarantino script, first vandalism then sniper school then how to clean up the back of a car after you accidentally shoot someone in the back of the head. Silly me. Memo to librarians: clear your programs with AL.

  43. Amen ohforpetesake.

    The AL thinks that they know what is best for everyone. No matter what the situation or setting. Must be nice to be right all the time.

    I will have to go ask my wife about that.

  44. kkfs: someone asked the question so I responded, you dip $hit.

  45. fitzie4 says:


    I’d like to think that a blog that Library Journal sponsors would have a bit more respect for librarians as individuals, and AL is the one doing the attacking. It’s not worth discussing “The Dumbest Things People Do” with some loser that writes a blog from her basement. The entire point is that no sympathy has gone out to the librarian who is being attacked publicly, whereas the AL does not have to deal with that.

  46. But no one was attacked publicly. The graffiti program was criticized. The only people mentioning a specific librarian are the commenters. Your little “I’d like to think” argument seems like it’s introducing a red herring just to find something to criticize about the AL. That’s certainly easier than defending this questionable teen program. This entire line of argument evades the point because it doesn’t want to tackle the criticism head on and say, “oh, yeah, having these rich kids come in and mock ghetto kids is fun!”

  47. “Must be nice to be right all the time.”

    It is.

  48. I Like Books says:

    Sure, graffiti has a long history. It’s been left by the craftsmen who built the Egyptian pyramids. It’s been written in Roman latrines. That doesn’t make the freeway bridge a national treasure.

    And sure, some graffiti is art. But most of it isn’t. And art where it doesn’t belong is going to get painted over. Sorry. Next time buy a canvas. I would not, however, call a wall mural graffiti. It’s a mural. Graffiti doesn’t get a pass by association with murals.

  49. Dr. NahNah says:

    Don’t know that this is the Teen Librarians fault. She might be under some crazed supervisor that wants her to program program program. Heck – she’s got to do something. I’m more curious about what the director of this library is doing? Are programs like this what she uses or is forced to use to justify the library’s budget or is she hobnobing with the big shots, making a more cogent case for the fiscal health of the library.

  50. Drew: You just did diss (not a real word) your colleagues. Midge: How do you know they didn’t consider ramifications. And of course it is fun to mock others. Take this blog as an example.

  51. Matt: I don’t, and I believe I said as much. I would hope that’d be the case, otherwise the program is just mocking and shallow. I’m not making judgments as I said and as AL pointed out, there’s not a lot of available information on the event. (I’m not sure why I have to repeat this so many times…)

  52. fitzie4 says:

    Actually Sidney, I didn’t want to find something to criticize the AL on as I was enjoying his blog up until this point. How do you explain that “no one was attacked publicly”? The AL is not funny when you think about the embarrassment he causes for those he singles out. I don’t understand why Library Journal promotes a blog that brings about such angry, nasty discourse. AL is immune from this same embarrassment because we do not have a level playing field. We do not get to attack his professional librarian decisions because he does not have the courage to write his blog under his true identity.
    In addition, you should take a look at Obama’s portrait that is housed in the National Potrait Museum in D.C., it is a graffiti artist’s work. And to address your point about ghetto kids: should suburban libraries take hip-hop books and c.d.’s out of the collection because reading/listening to it is mocking ghetto kids? Maybe you do feel that way, at least it would show consistency.

  53. Midge: How many times have you repeated it? I only see your name on 2 posts.

  54. whaaaaaaa says:

    How about a nice “come learn how to read so you can get a real job when you grow up, baggy pants” day at the library? Or a “how to use contraception effectively” day? ORRR, we can have TeenLibraryLady give a seminar on how to use the most cliched and moronic pop culture memes in one blog comment.

  55. Actually, fitzie4, you still have a fallacious argument, because you’re still introducing a red herring. No one was singled out or publicly attacked. A teen program was criticized. Are you willing to defend that program? If you’re not willing to defend or even discuss that program, everything you have to say is beside the point. You’re just bringing up other topics to draw attention away from the point of discussion. If you’re going to get on a high horse, at least get on a relevant high horse.

  56. Anonymous says:

    I grew up in a nice suburban town. We had graffiti. We had teen gangs (albeit with non-minority members), bullying, and crime. We also had art history in high school. I remeber attending an origami workshop once. Why is origami more acceptable as a suburban library program than graffiti art? When was the last ime you saw a paper crane in your neighborhood?

  57. Cincinnati NAMjA says:

    Teen Programing: Te next burgeoning lirbrary adventure.

  58. fitzie4 says:

    Sidney, I think you might have gotten kicked in the head by my high horse–brush up on your reading comprehension. I brought up our current President’s portrait, I imagine you can figure out my stance on the graffiti program based on that.

  59. Has anyone considered that the blog referred to in this blog might be bogus? From AL “teen workshop supposedly from the Jericho Public Library ” All this back and forth for something that probably doesn’t even exist.

    Side note – I’m new to this blog and for some reason, assumed AL was female. But now fitzie4 is suggesting that she is a he. I can only guess that fitzie4 knows something I don’t.

  60. I would like to retract my previous post. The referred blog post is legit – the blogger sent me the flyer. Sorry about that – I should have verified before posting.

  61. “Side note – I’m new to this blog and for some reason, assumed AL was female. But now fitzie4 is suggesting that she is a he. I can only guess that fitzie4 knows something I don’t.”

    AL is not a person, it is obviously a group of people. Look at the writing styles, they differ a lot. I would hazard a guess that the AL is 4 or 5 people. At least.

  62. Another Teen Librarian says:

    Well, I can understand AL’s concerns about this event because I, likewise, do not appreciate unsightly, unsolicited grafitti. As yet another young teen services librarian, though, I can shine some light on the context of this program for you.

    Will you be aghast when you learn that this grafitti program is actually not the singular brainchild of the librarian in question? This program is suggested in the Collaborative Summer Reading Program handbook this year. Most of the United States have public libraries that now participate in this program, and this year, the teen theme is “Express Yourself.” The program outline in the handbook details the importance of educating teens about urban art and where they SHOULDN’T put it, and it offers information about renowned urban artists, as well. The program, as it is outlined, serves to educate kids about a specific contemporary art form. Yes, it is a controversial art form. Should that preclude its potential significance as an art-themed teen event? I guess we all have our own opinions.

    I won’t try to defend my job because I can understand how you might find it frivolous, and to argue here would be mighty frivolous. I will say, though, that the teens who come to my cheesy programs really enjoy them. I only wish that I had such a comfortable environment in which I could learn and socialize when I was a teen.

    Moreover, that librarian probably doesn’t spend all of her time devising crafty program ideas. She probably also maintains the young adult collection, answers reference questions, performs readers’ advisory, collaborates with schools, etc. As long as we’re around, teens deserve library service, too!

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