Category Archives: Teen Services

Stop the Press: Spotting ‘Fake’ News

Posted on March 7th, 2017 by rbeckley in Teen Services



“You won’t believe what happens next!!”

The term “fake news” has been thrown around a lot recently. Reports have surfaced that Russia, a foreign government, intervened in the US Presidential Campaign with media meant to influence the election. The current US President has labeled traditionally reputable news outlets such as CNN, The New York Times, NBC, CBS, and ABC as ‘fake news.” If this term is used enough, it becomes part of our common vernacular. This can become dangerous if the public does not understand the definition of the word or term.

“Fake News” used to mean exactly what it sounds like, lies made up by people posing as news. The current US President, according to NPR, “casts all unfavorable news coverage as fake news. In one tweet, he even went so far as to say that ‘any negative polls are fake news.’ And many of his supporters have picked up and run with his new definition.”  This is a dangerous pattern, and the best way to avoid being misled by any persuasive influence is through information and self-education.

So how do you staff informed? How do you weed out the “fake news” from the truth? There are several helpful resources and tips available for you online. Here is a sampling: NPR, USA Today, and factcheck.org. For an additional read, check out this article by Buzzfeed News article on how hyperpartisan news gets made.

News sites have a standard look and feel to them, but this is easily copied by fake news sites. You’ll want to look out for other indicators when spotting fake news:

  • Pay attention to the URL. Sites with endings such as .com.co should tip you off. abcnews.com is a trusted site, but abcnews.com.co is not, and the similar appearance is meant to trick you.
  • If it’s real, other news sites are likely reporting it. A good practice is to do a quick google search, and see if the same “news” is also being reported by other reputable news sites. This will save you a lot of embarrassment if you share an article on social media without first double-checking.
  • How is the writing? How does it make you feel? Caps lock and multiple exclamation points don’t have a place in a professional news agency. Does it make you mad? False reports also target emotions.
  • It might be satire. Sites like The Onion are meant to be satirical and not misleading, but many people have mistaken Onion articles are legitimate.
  • Check your biases. This one is really hard. It means honest self-reflection on things that you may not like about yourself. Acccording to factcheck.org, “confirmation bias  leads people to put more stock in information that confirms their beliefs and discount information that doesn’t. But the next time you’re automatically appalled at some Facebook post concerning, say, a politician you oppose, take a moment to check it out.”


icon of RebeccaAre you interested in keeping up with the news and current events? The Boston Public Library has subscriptions to newspapers that you can read in the library or online.

*”Stop the Press” features current events posts by Rebecca, the Teen Librarian at the Grove Hall Branch, on the first Tuesday of every

On the Radar: Five Books to Check Out in March

Posted on February 28th, 2017 by vkovenmatasy in Books, Previews, Teen Services

Get your library card handy and reserve your place in line for these new March releases! If you place a hold now, they can be in your hands before they even hit the shelf.

Please note: all summaries are taken from the Boston Public Library catalog unless otherwise noted. They may have been edited for length and clarity.


inexplicable logic of my life cover

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Summary: A story set on the American border with Mexico, about family and friendship, life and death, and one teen struggling to understand what his adoption does and doesn’t mean about who he is.

Why We’re Excited: FINALLY, a new book from Benjamin Alire Sáenz! Dante and Aristotle Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which came out five years ago, is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. While this is not, sadly, a sequel (you promised more about Dante and Ari and I’m holding you to it, Mr. Alire Sáenz! *shakes fist*), everything I’ve heard about The Inexplicable Logic of My Life sounds both gorgeous and thoughtful, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it. I’ve only been jealously eyeing the advance readers copy on my coworker’s desk for the past six months, it’s cool, I’m a patient human being and I can wait. (GIMME ALREADY.)


the bone witch cover

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

Summary: Tea’s gift for death magic means that she is a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community, but when an older bone witch trains her to become an asha–one who can wield elemental magic–Tea will have to overcome her obstacles and make a powerful choice in the face of danger as dark forces approach.

Why We’re Excited: Buckle up, horror fans, your girl Rin Chupeco has a new book out! The Bone Witch sounds like it leans more toward fantasy than The Girl From the Well and The Suffering, but let’s be honest: we’re all going to show up for accidental necromancy.


dead little mean girl cover

Dead Little Mean Girl by Eva Darrows

Summary: A proud geek girl, Emma loves her quiet life on the outskirts, playing video games and staying off the radar. When her nightmare of a new stepsister moves into the bedroom next door, her world is turned upside down. Quinn is a queen bee with a nasty streak who destroys anyone who gets in her way. Teachers, football players, her fellow cheerleaders–no one is safe. Emma wants nothing more than to get this girl out of her life, but when Quinn dies suddenly, Emma realizes there was more to her stepsister than anyone ever realized.

Why We’re Excited: I loved Darrows’ genre-bending debut, The Awesome (is it horror? fantasy? humor? contemporary romance? who cares, it’s amazing!), and her sophomore effort promises even more category-defying mash-up greatness. Bring It On meets Stand By Me? I mean, hey, why not?


overturned cover

Overturned by Lamar Giles

Summary: Nikki Tate’s father has been on death row for killing his best friend in a gambling dispute, but he has always maintained his innocence. Now his conviction has been overturned and he is back at the casino, where high school junior Nikki has been operating illegal poker games in the hopes of saving enough money to get out of Vegas after graduation–and now he is determined to find the real killer, and Nikki is inevitably drawn into his dangerous search for the truth.

Why We’re Excited: Lamar Giles knows how to write an exciting mystery — check out Fake ID and Endangered if you haven’t already — and he’s also a founding member of We Need Diverse Books. Need I say more? You’re in for a fabulous, authentic read.


honestly ben cover

Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg

Summary: Ben Carver returns for the spring semester at the exclusive Natick School in Massachusetts determined to put his relationship with Rafe Goldberg behind him and concentrate on his grades and the award that will mean a full scholarship–but Rafe is still there, there is a girl named Hannah whom he meets in the library, and behind it all is his relationship with his distant, but demanding father.

Why We’re Excited: Ok, first of all, if you haven’t read Openly Straight yet, close the browser window, acquire a copy, and don’t come back to this page until you’re done so I don’t spoil the ending for you. Cool? Cool.
We safe from spoilers now? Great. The ending of Openly Straight made me actively furious. It gave a happy ending to our blithe protagonist Rafe (who was, let’s face it, abnormally well-adjusted and was going to be fine no matter what) but threw his best friend and erstwhile love interest Ben under the bus. I can’t even think about the book — which I really enjoyed reading, up to the end! — without getting angry about how Ben’s storyline just cut off in the middle of what should have been his narrative arc, zero resolution to be found. I should probably apologize in retrospect for cussing out Bill Konigsberg so much in my head, because as it turns out Ben is getting his own book and (hopefully!) a whole bunch of resolution is waiting at the end of it. Fingers crossed!


icon of VeronicaDid I get you interested in reading one of these books? Just click the title of the one you want and the link will take you to the relevant page in the catalog. From there you can click the green “Place a Hold” button and you’re all set!

Need a library card? Wondering how long you can borrow a book? Borrowing and Circulation information can be found here.


*”On the Radar” features book previews by Veronica, the Teen Librarian at the Dudley Branch, on the last Tuesday or Friday of every month.

Stop the Press: New Photos from the Past

Posted on February 7th, 2017 by rbeckley in News, Teen Services
Tags: ,

Does this lady look familiar to you?


American school children have seen her face countless times, have read her story of escaping slavery only to make the same trip many times, guiding hundreds of escaped slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. Most pictures of Harriet Tubman were taken about 10 to 20 years later. But this photo is reported to be taken when she was around 43 years old, placing it just after the end of the Civil War.

With the US Treasury’s plan to put Harriet Tubman’s face on the $20 bill, this find is a wonderful way to celebrate Black History Month.


icon of RebeccaAre you interested in keeping up with the news and current events? The Boston Public Library has subscriptions to newspapers that you can read in the library or online.

*”Stop the Press” features current events posts by Rebecca, the Teen Librarian at the Grove Hall Branch, on the first Tuesday of every

Ctrl+Z: Teen Tech Mentors Take Over “Tween Time” – PART 2

Posted on January 30th, 2017 by chalpin in Teen Services

Teen Tech Mentor, Khalid Ibrahim, recently co-led a program for older children.
He shares his experience below: 

Our first Teen Tech Mentor  program was based on the Little Bits simple circuits set.  There are examples all over the Internet of the many amazing contraptions and gadgets that can be made with LittleBits.littleBits_project ideas

We began our program with a run-down of all the parts of the Little-Bits case.   My fellow Teen-Tech mentor and I went over where individual parts usually come in the circuit series.  We also went over the use of the specific parts when building the wireless buzzer.

First , we passed around a completed Wireless Buzzer to show the tweens what the project looked like.  Next, we began building the circuit beginning with the power source.  Then we conjoined the slide dimmer to the circuit in order to gauge the power being delivered to the rest of the circuit.  Finally we attached the wireless component to the circuit to reach the rest of it.   Finally, we experimented with attaching different Bits to the base circuit to see what other projects could branch from the Wireless Buzzer.

Overall, our first program with the Wireless Buzzer was a huge success as we not only accomplished teaching the Wireless Buzzer  to our tweens but we were able to branch off and move to other ideas.  Owen quickly got with the idea of the Little-Bits and took the lead for finding new innovative ideas with it.

-Khalid Ibrahim


Ctrl+Z: Teen Tech Mentors Take Over “Tween Time”

Posted on January 27th, 2017 by chalpin in Teen Services

Teen Tech Mentor, Khalid Mohamed, recently co-led a program for older children.
He shares his experience below: 

Circuitry (n.)

1946, from circuit (n.)+ -ry.

Circuit (n.)

Late 14c., “a going around; a line going around,” from Old French circuit (14c.) “a circuit; a journey (around something),” from Latin circuitus “a going around,” from stem of circuire, circumire “go around,” from circum “round” + ire “to go”.


Word-forming element making nouns meaning “place for, art of, condition of, quantity of,” from Middle English -erie, from Latin -arius (see -ary). Also sometimes in modern colloquial use “the collectivity of” or “an example of.”

Over the course of two weeks, my collaborator Khalid Ibrahim and I had developed a programed aimed for tweens on circuitry. As the etymology displayed above displays, circuitry is the art of going around, or in modern terms, the system in which an electricity flows. In the program, we used littleBits. The littleBits are a kit for easy-to-use circuitry, using little bits that function as different parts of a circuit. We had chosen to use these for our first program because of their versatility and ease of use.

We had first started with the planning of what our program would aim to achieve. We had decided on “activity aims to have students learn and demonstrate fluency in basic circuitry. This will be executed using littleBits, a modular electronics kit used for fun and learning.”. Then we had to construct an outline:

Program Activities:

  • Icebreaker – Name, age, “What do you think a circuit is?” (5 minutes)
  • Introduction what a circuit is, display littleBits, what you can do and what each part does, hand around and explain the Buzzer circuit (10-15 minutes)
  • Give students littleBits, and instruct them to a Wireless Buzzing Machine (30 minutes)


  • Other project as time allows.littleBits_Starter_Kit_openHR


  • littleBits
  • Example
  • Tweens

Learning Outcomes/Goals:

  • Know what a circuit is and what it does
  • Ability to use littleBits, what each individual bit does, and make a basic (buzzer) to complex (kite or wireless) circuits

We had chosen to have our tweens make wireless buzzers as they utilize all the littleBits and it is on the more complex side to build. To build this, we would need two batteries. two blue power bits, one pink modulator bit, a pair of wireless bits, and a green buzzer. To construct this, one would attach the blue power bits to the wireless bits. One one wireless bit there would be two sides, with the power delivered on one end and whichever channel it goes through and the buzzer is on on the other wireless bit, the buzzer will go off, if both wireless bits are on the same radio channel. The pink modulation bit, in this case the slide dimmer, can be attached to either bits or even the buzzer to change how much electricity can be sent to the buzzer, hence changing the volume of the buzzer.

On the day of our program, we had run short of materials. We had our littleBits, our example, and instructors. What we had run short of tweens, to the point where we had one. The student was named Owen, and was a nine year old who was extremely technology-savvy. He had shown us a website where he placed games he made using Scratch. Owen was enthusiastic about the project, stating that it would be easy to do. He told us that circuits are in all electronics, and serve to give them structure and power supply. He had flown through the introduction of the bits, and created the wireless buzzer within thirty minutes. Since my partner and I had no further projects to assign, we had Owen create to his delectation. He had built a fan and wheel contraption which he could control which one he wanted to run. In the end, we concluded that we had a great program. Though we were hit with the hindrance of one tween, we had him learn about circuitry and apply that knowledge to building custom circuits.
— Khalid M. Mohamed