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  • July 2020
    M T W T F S S

All the Leaves Are Brown, and the Skies Are Grey: California Dreamin’ with Teen Lit

Hey, burrito, did you meet my mouth? Burrito, mouth. Mouth, burrimfmfrghfmrmfhghg. BURP.

Yesterday, excited to escape the rainy Pittsburgh weather, I hopped on a plane and flew westward to San Francisco, where, within an hour of arrival, it started raining.

Despite the fact that I seemed to have infected normally sunny San Fran with a little Pittsburgh grey, it was a real mood enhancer to escape out the back door of the storm.

If you want to take your own journey to San Francisco, literarily speaking, teen lit has you covered!

Childs, Tera Lynn
Sweet Venom

As monsters walk the streets of San Francisco, unseen by humans, three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful gorgon maligned in Greek mythology, must reunite and embrace their fates.

Madonia, Kristen-Paige
Fingerprints of You

After spending her life moving from place to place with her single mother, pregnant seventeen-year-old Lemon takes a bus to San Francisco to seek the father she never knew, as well as truths about her mother and herself.

Carlton, Susan R. F. K.
Love and Haight

Seventeen-year-old Chloe brings her friend MJ to San Francisco, one of the few places where an abortion can be obtained legally in 1971, to get rid of Chloe’s “Thing” while staying with her bohemian Aunt Kiki, experiencing hippie culture, and reconnecting with a former boyfriend.

Chow, Cara
Bitter Melon

With the encouragement of one of her teachers, a Chinese-American high school senior asserts herself against her demanding, old-school mother and carves out an identity for herself in late 1980s San Francisco.

Also, it was pretty cool to pass by the San Francisco Giants parade in honor of their World Series victory. Reminds me of this weird dream I had recently…

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main

Teen Blogger: Outsmarting the College Salesmen

Hello, my name is Wei. (Before we go further, it’s important for you to know that it’s pronounced like “WAY.” I mean, how awkward would it be if you came up to me & called me “WEE”?) I’m a senior, a vegetarian, I read ALL THE TIME, I can lick my elbow, and I believe I am searching for a “Great Perhaps.”

A car salesman and a college tour guide are basically the same thing. They’re both trying to sell you something that’s ridiculously expensive. They’re going to show you the finer points of their wares while conveniently leaving what’s not so attractive by the wayside. Sometimes they’re bubbling with excitement to show you around. Sometimes they’re evasive. But they’re always trained in the art of selling. And there are always an overwhelming amount of them, each trying to sell you their car/college over the next guy’s.

Touring college campuses, like browsing car dealerships, should be done carefully. While everything should be taken in, it should also be done with a grain of salt. They’re a make-it-or-break-it type experience for a lot of people. You’re seeing where you could potentially be living the next few years of your young adult life. It’s scary, but it’s the most exciting feeling.

So, how do you cut through the half-truths and the pretty façade of these well-rehearsed salesmen to get to the heart of the matter to know what’s the best fit for you?

#1.) Visit as many campuses as you can. I have a lot of friends who have at current count, only visited one school. And then all they talk about is how much they love it and how it’s the school for them. But if you only visit one campus, how can you possibly know? It’s important to note that even if you don’t plan on going to College X, if you get a chance, visit anyway. Even if you hate it, you’ll realize what you don’t want which is at least a step better than not knowing what you want at all.

#2.) Visit with your parents. So, I know that the number one most appealing thing about getting a higher education is the fact that you can do it outside the vicinity of Mom and Dad, but seriously, think about it. It’s not just what you want, it’s what your family can afford. They should see the school that they’re sending their son/daughter to. They should see if it’s a good fit and if it’s worth the money. Plus, it’s good to get a second opinion. I mean, for the most part, they’re relatively wise. They got you this far, didn’t they?

#3.) Don’t fall for the little things. Tour guides are going to highlight the best parts such as the new renovations to the science lab, some famous band that just played on campus, the hundreds of sports and activities that they offer. That’s all great & good, but remember that every school has some award or unique feature, and all of them have clubs. Don’t fall for the little things like a Quidditch team (it’s tempting, I know); instead, look at the whole picture. What good is free Wi-fi if you’re too deep in the middle of nowhere that your phone doesn’t work? What’s the use of a new physics building if the professor still teaches like Prohibition is still a thing?

#4.) What you learn after the tour is just as useful as what you learn during it. Guides are only going to show you the best, biggest parts of campus. It might be a good idea after the tour to go walk around without a guide & try to find all the nooks and crannies and see if they have as much glimmer to them as what you saw on the tour. Also, eat in the main dining hall. Should this be the college you choose, you’ll be eating from there more often than not, so it’s good to get a sense of what kind of food you’ll be anticipating. Also, since the majority of the people there will be college kids, it’s a good idea to scope them out and try to get a feel if they’re the kind of people you want to spend the next few years with.

#5.) Make sure they know you’re coming. This should really go without saying, but schedule an appointment first. They need to know that you’re coming so that they can have a guide ready. Sometimes people will just take a look around by themselves, without the knowledge of the school. While that’s fine, it’s not really the most efficient way. Colleges keep records of all the students who visit them. When applying, if they see that you visited or met with an admissions counselor or in some way showed your interest in their school, they’ll know that you’re serious about wanting to attend. Basically, it will look better on your application.

If the last one went without saying, then this next one should go so much without saying that I’m not even going to list it as a tip: ASK QUESTIONS. Believe me, whatever it is, do not feel stupid. They have had sillier questions. Trust me.

I know it’s frightening, to do all these thing for your future when you’re not even sure what the future looks like. But it’s worth it.

Teen Blogger: Carpe Aestate

Hello, my name is Wei. (Before we go further, it’s important for you to know that it’s pronounced like “WAY.” I mean, how awkward would it be if you came up to me & called me “WEE”?) I’m a senior, a vegetarian, I read ALL THE TIME, I can lick my elbow, and I believe I am searching for a “Great Perhaps.”

Carpe Aestate.

Carpe Diem, as you may know, means “seize the day.” “Carpe” means something along the lines of “seize”. “Diem” means day. “Seize the day.” Do not take today for granted because you’ll never know if you’ll be here tomorrow. Don’t procrastinate, take advantage of your youth, don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today yada yada yada. Yawn, right? Heard it a million times before, right?

Hate to tell ya, but it’s true. Especially now that it’s summer. Don’t just spend time by the pool, snackin’ on Cheetos (or whatever people happen to do during the summer). Actually make something of your summer, don’t let it go passing you by. This goes for everyone, though I’m specifically targeting those of you who are rising juniors or seniors in high school thinking/worrying/freaking out about college, those of you who are in the same boat as me. So, Carpe Aestate. “Seize the summer.”

Here are some tips to make the most of your summer (and, to a lesser degree, help you prepare for college).

1) Save up some money. You’ll need it later. Everyone is more likely to hate than like their summer jobs. Don’t hate it! Learn to make the most of it. Connect with people, make new friends. Put some money in the good old piggy bank (or better yet, savings account).

2) Learn something new. Take some classes either online or in an actual classroom. It’s not too late to enroll. A lot of online classes are even free. In fact, I’m taking a Sociology course through Princeton & a Pharmacology course through the University of Pennsylvania, both made possible by Coursera. If a structured class isn’t your cup of tea, try learning a new language. Memrise offers basic vocabulary for any language you could ever think of (I personally vouch for their Mandarin course). Or learn to knit or yodel or tie your shoes or something. Basic point: sometimes you learn a lot more if you’re not in school.

3) Read. Reading opens doors, expands vocabulary, and if you pick up the right book, changes your mindset or even your life. Also, you will do A LOT of reading in college. So it’s useful to start analytically read books and learning how to read faster. I know I’m not the only one here who has unread books piling up. Summer is the perfect time to catch up on them. You can even sit by the pool & eat Cheetos while reading! If you don’t know what to read, stop by the library for half an hour. I guarantee that you won’t leave empty handed.

4) Volunteer. I started volunteering because I hated being with people who never cared about anything. Through volunteering, I met people that were passionate about what they were doing–and I loved it. Not to mention volunteering looks really good on college applications and a lot of scholarships have volunteer work as criteria. It’s like killing three birds with one stone.

5) Think ahead. What do you plan to do with your life? What college do you want to go to? Research possible career choices & colleges. Do it now because you won’t have time later. Have you signed up for the SATs or ACTs? Think about whether or not you need to take the SAT Subject tests, and if you do, what subjects? Some colleges prefer certain subject tests for certain majors.

6) Have fun! Summer is still summer & that means no school, no teachers, no waking up at six in the morning. Sleep in, rest up, & enjoy your summer. After all, that is what Carpe Aestate is about.

April is National Financial Literacy Month! Aren’t you excited?

Courtesy TeeratasI am well aware that money . . .

how to get it, 

and what to do with it, once you have it . . .

isn’t the most fascinating topic for all of us. However, it is one of those necessary evils, and it’s best that we all are well versed and aware of the resources out there, regarding all things money.

Since librarians are all about making research easy for everyone, see below for a list of selected FREE resources for you to use in your journey toward financial literacy.

It All Adds Up Site

Sponsored by American Express, this website is for teens who want to prepare for their financial futures. The web site contains online games and simulations to help students learn about credit management, buying a car, paying for college, budgeting, saving, and investing.

Not Your Parents Money Book: Making, Saving, and Spending Your Own Money by Jean Chatzky.

This book covers personal finances, describing ways to make, save, and spend money responsibly.

Occupational Outlook Handbook

Check out this site, maintained by the federal government, to take a look at what you need to do to prepare to enter the world of your dream job, and what you can expect once you get there!

Quick Cash for Teens: Be Your Own Boss and Make Big Bucks by Peter G. Bielagus

This is your guide to starting your own business – from finding your niche to developing a business plan, this one covers it all.

Top 100 Careers Without a Four-Year Degree: Your Complete Guidebook to Good Jobs in Many Fields by Laurence Sharkin, Ph.D

See this title to start with your skills and figure out what career is right for you.  The information inside is based on the Occupational Outlook Handbook – more information of that resource above.

That’s all for now!


Happy Seward’s Day!!

You probably have never heard of Seward’s Day. I had never heard of it until a few days ago when I was looking for odd holidays that happen in March (like Girl Scout Day on March 12th or Make Up Your Own Holiday Day on March 25th). One of those odd holidays was Seward’s Day, which celebrates the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867. William H. Seward was the US Secretary of State who negotiated the deal, so the day is known as Seward’s Day. I do remember that the purchase of Alaska was originally called ‘Seward’s Folly’ because some people thought $7 million was too much to pay for such a barren wasteland. I guess Seward was right though as Alaska has provided the United States with lots of natural resources, Jewel, and the TV show Northern Exposure.

I am choosing to write about Alaska though because it has been my dream vacation destination for as long as I can remember. I actually prefer to not leave the house (or at least the western Pennsylvania region), but if I could travel somewhere Alaska would be my choice. I have always thought that Alaska was beautiful and majestic and would be a cool place to visit. I’ve always dreamed of seeing the glaciers, flyfishing, and visit Denali National Park. Plus, I love seafood and Alaska probably has some awesome fresh seafood! I even know where I would stay- the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge near Denali National Park. Maybe some day I’ll be able to visit and then I can blog about my adventures! Until then have a great Seward’s Day and keep dreaming of your own fantasy vacation!

Road Trip!

In just a few short hours I’ll be packing up my car for a road trip to my home town for a visit.  I’m excited, but there is still so much to do.
When planning a road trip you have to remember so much.  You have to pack the map or the GPS, you have to remember your tooth-brush, and most importantly you have to plan some entertainment.  I’ve been thinking of tunes to load onto my iPod and books to read for weeks.

They say “Getting There Is Half the Fun” and I couldn’t agree more. And getting there is so much better when you have your favorite music and books along for the ride.  With summer coming, I bet I’m not the only one with a road trip on the horizon, so check out this list for inspiration.

Sixteen year old Bridgette is a member of a family of Travelers or Gypsies who sometimes resort to theft and dishonesty to make their way in the world.  Bridgette feels trapped by this type of life but fears stepping away from her family for a more conventional life of school and friends.

After her free-spirited Aunt Peg’s death, Ginny receives a plane ticket to Europe.  Thus begins a mysterious journey.  Ginny is guided by Peg’s European friends and also 13 letters written before just before her aunt died.

After a traumatic event kicks off this story its main characters, Jordy a homeless, gay teen and Chloe an abused and homeless girl set off on a healing cross-country adventure.  At the start of the book neither of them have anyone to lean on, but through their friendship they create a lasting family in each other.

After his most recent dumping by a girl named Katherine (all of his girlfriends have had the same name) and anxiety over not living up to his genius reputation post high school, Colin is depressed.  So his best friend Hassan decides the best way to cheer him up is an epic, rambling road trip.   The journey ends in Tennessee with a girl, who isn’t named Katherine.

Happy Trails,

They’re Talking About Us in the Big City

View of the library stacks from the Dinosaur Hall

View of the library stacks from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History

This Sunday The New York Times published an article in the travel section entitled “36 Hours in Pittsburgh” by Mr. Jeff Schlagel.  It’s the most e-mailed story in the travel section this week, as well as one of the most blogged about. (I’m doing my part!)  I think we all know that Pittsburghers love to show off their town, but you know what’s missing from the lists of attractions?  The library, of course!  All due respect to Mr. Schlagel, but I imagine he just didn’t see the library as the exciting and vital place you and I both know it to be.  I say that’s his loss. 

I urge you to read over “36 Hours in Pittsburgh” and, in addition to thinking about all of these great places in town, think about what’s missing from the list.  It’s great to get good press for the city I love, but I see our town as more than just a place that used to be smokey.  What do you think Pittsburgh’s identity is?  What should it be?  What do you love about it?  And, most importantly, how do you think the library fits into it all?

– Corey W./CLP, Main

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