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The College Search

By: Britta J., Teen Blogger

As part of the junior class this year, I can definitely feel all the pressure suddenly put on us to start looking at colleges and preparing for all the standardized tests we’ll have to take. It can be really stressful, especially if you’re not sure where to start, or if you have no idea what you want to do in the future. If you are in that boat, don’t worry! A lot of people are. But here are some tips I’ve gotten so far that have really helped me prepare for finding the right school:

School size

There are some schools with less students than my high school and some that are bigger than my town. Just knowing if you’ll be successful in a smaller or larger school, or somewhere in between, can help narrow down your options. You should also pay attention to the campus surroundings; whether a school is in an urban, suburban or rural environment can also be a big factor in how big it actually feels.


Some students want to go to a school that is across a country, while others want to stay in state. If you have some idea of the distance you want from home, or any specific location you like or dislike, you can focus your search on colleges in that area where you’ll be most comfortable.


If you are definitely an Engineering major, maybe a small liberal arts school isn’t for you. When researching colleges, look into what majors they have, how easy it is to change majors, and how big their programs are for the subject of your choice. Also, pay attention to statistics like class size and student to faculty ratio to get a good feel of their academic environment.


If you are at the same stage as me when looking for colleges don’t limit your search by cost. College is expensive, but the “sticker price” that they present is often not what you will have to pay. There are scholarships and financial aid that you don’t even know exist that you could qualify for, so don’t rule any schools out because of cost just yet. Also, keep in mind that just because a school is in state, it is not necessarily cheaper than other out of state schools.

Out of the 4,000 colleges and universities in America alone, there is definitely a school where you can be successful and happy. There are also some great resources to help you look. At www.collegeboard.org, there is an extensive search system that makes it easy to find colleges that match your requirements, from religious affiliations to whether cars are allowed for freshmen on campus. My school uses Naviance, which is also extremely helpful in finding colleges and even provides data about the amount of students from your school who applied, were accepted and who attended each college. Finding the right school can be intimidating but there are a lot of resources that can help you along the way. Good luck!

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

It’s Spring Break

By: Christina Keasler, Middle School Librarian

Spring Break Written In The Sand with a Pair of Red Sunglasses


While some of you might be thinking that the year has been going by too fast, others think spring break couldn’t have come quick enough. Spring break is a time to set down the textbooks and catch up on a little R&R. If you’d like, you should totally take advantage of the lack of commitment and sleep in.

Looking for things to do? If you want to have fun outside, you can fly a kite or take a walk around Lake Ellyn. We’re supposed to have a few days of sun, so be sure to rock last year’s swag glasses! If you’re looking for things to do indoors, why not play a board game or see a movie? I’m dying to hear how Batman vs. Superman is!

You probably already know this, but you can totally come hang out at the library. We have games and crafternoons in The Middle and, of course, LOTS OF BOOKS!

Need a suggestion? Here are some great books you’d be sure to get through in a week:


Posted in The Middle: GEPL Middle School

We’re Listening!

By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

Young Girl Doing Homework With FriendsAs you may know, GEPL has a wonderful Teen Leadership Council (TLC) that meets monthly, helps out with events and planning and gives us an actual teen perspective on our programs and services. One of the most important things they do is help us to learn what you all want from your library.

They aren’t the only way we get this feedback – we also talk to your teachers, talk to you as much as possible, take book requests and use program feedback forms to find out more. It’s still hard, but as much as possible, we want to know what you really think about your library, and hear what you really want from us.

Over the course of the last few months, we’ve heard one thing over and over. Apparently, you love our Homework Café program! If you’re not familiar with Homework Café, it’s pretty simple: after school on certain days we serve coffee and hot chocolate in our Teen Scene Room while you do your homework. Simple, yes, but we like to think the hot drinks help with studying, and it’s our way of telling you we’re glad you’re here.

So when I asked TLC members about what we could best do to serve teenagers, more than one of them suggested expanding our Homework Café program, and they weren’t the only ones saying it – we heard it on feedback and comment forms too. Well, I’m here to tell you that we’ve heard enough! We’re expanding Homework Café to twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, to give you more of what you asked for!

I know it’s just one small change – a twice a week program instead of once a week – but we hope that making this change will encourage you to tell us more! Tell us about programs you want, books you’d like to read, things the library could bring to your class or club or life. You can call me at 630-790-6748 or email me any time with suggestions, feedback and more. I promise you, we’re listening.

And even if you don’t have any other ideas you want to share, we still want you to stop by on a Tuesday or Thursday after school and enjoy some hot chocolate while you do your homework.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Sensory Storytime at the Library

By: Katy Almendinger, Early Literacy Librarian

Check out our new services and programs for children with special needs and their families!

Sensory Storytime

Boardmaker Storytime SymbolThe Youth Department is excited to offer a new storytime! It’s called Sensory Storytime. Sensory Storytime features adaptations designed for children with Autism or other special needs. Everyone is encouraged to attend — including families, siblings and children of all abilities. Sensory Storytime will meet on April 9th and May 14th from 1:30 – 2:30 pm. Don’t worry, the storytime isn’t a full hour. Half of the program is set aside for sensory play and socialization.

In some ways, Sensory Storytime is like our other storytimes. There will be rhymes, songs, books and plenty of opportunities to shake out the wiggles. But Sensory Storytime also has a few unique elements:

  • The Visual Schedule. Children want to know what’s coming next, so the visual schedule will include symbols for each part of the program. Our schedule will be created with Boardmaker images — children in early intervention therapy classes will probably already recognize the symbols. We will review the schedule at the beginning of the program and remove activities as they are completed. A PDF version of the Sensory Storytime schedule will be available on our website soon.
  • The Small Group. It won’t be as loud and fast-paced as some of our other storytimes. It’s a calm, safe environment for children with special needs and their families.
  • The Interactive Format. Each book will be interactive in some way. One of the first books we’ll share is Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin and Eric Carle. With this book, felt pieces will be used so children can participate throughout the entire story. Our goal is to engage the senses with each activity.

Interested in attending? Be sure to reserve your spot! If you have questions about Sensory Storytime, please contact Miss Katy at calmendinger@gepl.org.

Social Story

Make sure you check out the new Special Needs section of our website. We’ve added some new features to our web page. We created a downloadable “This Is My Library” social story. Using simple first-person text and real pictures, the Social Story walks children through the Youth Department and all it has to offer. A Social Story can be a great way to prepare children for their library visit.

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Mortal Instruments Has Returned to the Screen – Time to Cringe or Fangirl?

By: Ashley H., Teen Blogger

Shadow Hunters TV Show PosterYour favorite book is being turned into a movie or TV show. Your reaction will probably be between 😭 and 😡. Most of us in a book fandom haven’t found a movie adaption that has lived up to our expectations. The director either totally changed the plot, added in unneeded romance, created a new character or, fandoms forbid, deleted your favorite character so they never existed!

So when I learned that The Mortal Instruments was getting rebooted after its movie flop I was a little wary. But It looks like I had nothing to worry about! The TV show, called Shadowhunters, is one of my new favorites and it seems that most of the fandom agrees with me. The show is airing on Freeform (formerly ABC Family) is produced by McG (Supernatural and The Duff) and had the creative input by the big kahuna herself, Cassandra Clare!

With the big names and the influence of Cassie I had pretty high hopes for the show. When I watched the premier I was glad that it did NOT disappoint. Though the show did change a few details like Clary and Simon being in college and making Luke a cop, I thought that it kept the characters true to themselves and the whole mystical and even gruesome feel that is the Shadow World. The changes kept me, who loves and has read the Mortal Instruments more times than I can count, on my toes! I even found myself fangirling over the tiniest details in the show that I knew were part of the original book series. Though I can see why some book lovers do not like the TV show for the same reasons why I love it, I do believe that the overall fandom loves the show and has grown even larger because of it.

I can honestly tell you that I have not missed a single episode and love how on every Tuesday night the cast and crew bring to life my favorite shadowhunters, downworlders and even mundanes.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Full STEAM Ahead

STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art Math) Header

By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

If you’ve been by the library recently, you may have heard or seen something about our 3rd annual S.T.E.A.M. Fair, going on tomorrow. If you haven’t, or aren’t sure what that is, here’s the quick version: organizations from all over Illinois will be bringing in activities and exhibits relating in some way to science, technology, engineering, arts and math; and we’ll be showing off some of the library resources as well. The whole library will be all STEAM from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm, and hundreds of people will show up to see everything.

But, I know many of you may be thinking: “man, that sounds an awful lot like school and not what I want to be doing on my weekend” or “isn’t that for kids?”  And yes, there is quite a bit of educational content, and yes, there will be a lot of kids around. But there’s plenty of stuff that’s fun for teens and adults as well, and I promise that if you really want to avoid the educational stuff, you can. Here’s a few things that might make it worth your while to stop by tomorrow!

The Elgin Paranormal Investigators will be showing the technology they use to investigate and review claims of paranormal activity. Yes, this does mean there will be ghost hunters at the STEAM Fair.

The NASA Solar System Ambassadors Program (SSA) will be here to talk about the solar system and space exploration missions from NASA. And if Neil DeGrasse Tyson has taught us anything, it’s that space is awesome.

Kids Watching the Making of Ice Cream with Liquid NitrogenChemical Reaction: A Chemistry Magic Show (10:30, 12:30 and 2:30) is pretty much exactly what’s on the box. Magic, but with science. This may sound like it’s aimed at kids (I’ll admit, the kids are pretty amazed) but it’s a super fun show for everyone. Also, if you’re under 18, you’ll need a parent signature to attend, and anything that requires a waiver has to have a certain cool factor, right?

ChiBots-Chicago Area Robotics will have robots. I mean, I could say more, but I don’t think it’s necessary, because robots.

GEPL’s Digital Media Lab will be on display, and we’ll be highlighting our green screen. You’ll be able to take a picture and choose a background, or record a video talking about how great the library is (because we are great…right? Right?)

These are just a few of the displays, exhibits and activities that will be at the library tomorrow – we have a total of 17 different exhibitors. Even if you don’t want to make a day of it, you should definitely stop by and see what all the fuss is about!

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Spring Break Books and Day Trips

By: Bari Ericson, Youth Programming Associate

Spring Break in Chicagoland can be a challenge. We have to travel quite far to get somewhere that actually looks like spring, and when we get there, we discover everyone else had the same idea. At my house, we decided to make Spring Break a time to explore the city and suburbs. Saving money for summer vacation, we slept in our own beds and ate our favorite breakfast cereals. We often read a book or watched a movie the night before to get ready for the next day’s outing. Below are some of our favorites, with pairings of library materials to set the stage. Enjoy your adventures!

Outing: Jelly Belly Warehouse Tour (Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin)

Candymakers by Wendy Mass Book Cover

Fiction: The Candymakers by Wendy Mass

Non-Fiction: Sweet!: The Delicious Story of Candy by Ann Love

Picture Book: Little Pea by Amy Rosenthal

Movie: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Posted in Where The Child Things Are: GEPL Youth

Pros and Cons of AP Classes

By: Britta J., Teen Blogger

You Mean To Tell Me You Studied All Year And Didn't Take the AP Test?It’s that time of year! AP test registration time! I know that most of us AP students are pretty pumped about taking multiple 3-hour long tests, which could decide our future academic paths, in the middle of May. But, for those of you who aren’t completely sold, or don’t know what AP classes really are, here’s a breakdown of the whole AP situation.

AP stands for Advanced Placement, and consists of year-long classes and a cumulative test that is administered and regulated by College Board, the institution that also administers the PSAT and SAT tests your junior year. Of course, support for the AP program is varied, so here is a good old-fashioned pros and cons list on the topic (my favorite way to deal with complex subjects):


  • AP classes often are taught with the best resources and teachers, so if you take an AP class it will likely be of high quality
  • AP classes often create a challenging environment sought by academically ambitious students
  • On a 1-5 scale, if a student gets a 3 or higher they could possibly receive college credit for their class, or test out of introductory courses in college
  • If a student scores a 3 or higher on an AP class, they will definitely receive college credit if they attend any public college in Illinois
  • Even if students don’t score well on the AP test, the class is still is great preparation for future college courses
  • There are programs that can help pay for the AP tests if you are financially incapable
  • AP classes are a great way to challenge yourself in subjects you find interesting


  • Like I said above, AP classes are taught with the best resources and by the best teachers, creating an exclusive environment that could limit the opportunities of other students
  • Many colleges don’t accept AP credits anymore, which is slightly aggravating, if you’ve worked hard for an entire year to earn the credit
  • The College Board has some fishy financial records. Americans for Educational Testing Reform’s “report card” on the College Board awarded them a grade of D and cited numerous “areas of misconduct” by the College Board
  • This relates to the above point. Each test is 89 dollars. Add that up a few times for the average AP kid, and you’ve got a hefty sum
  • When schools push the AP curriculum on students so much, students often end up in classes that are too difficult for them, or in too many challenging classes, and the result is stressed out, sleep deprived teenagers (who are no fun)

So those are some basic arguments for and against AP classes. I am currently registered to take 5 AP tests this year. I love the classes I’m taking, find them very interesting, and plan to use them to further my college education. But I also rarely have free time to pursue projects I want to, and am currently running on 5 hours of sleep. There’s a balance you have to maintain regarding AP classes, so my advice is this: If you have already taken the AP class, register for the test, you might as well take your chances.

If you don’t know whether to enroll in an AP class, make sure it’s about a subject you’re actually interested in, and make sure you have the time to also have a life outside of school (I tried it once, it was pretty nice). But most of all, choose the class that you think will most benefit your overall education. That maybe an AP class, and it may not. Either way, remember that in high school, you’re just getting started. Don’t burn out just yet.

Yours truly,

– An AP student in a slight existential crisis

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

St. Patrick’s Day

By: Christina Keasler, Middle School Librarian

Saint Patrick’s Day is coming. This holiday reminds us of the Irish, shamrock shakes and luck. I personally am a firm believer in luck. So much, in fact, that it skews my perception of statistics. I focus less on the science of what’s likely to happen, and more about all the possibilities that could happen.

There are a lot of strange good luck charms used around the world. Alligator teeth are believed to bring you good luck when gambling in Africa. Some Asian cultures think it’s bad luck to kill a cricket, even accidentally. In Middle Eastern cultures, an Evil Eye amulet wards off the Evil Eye curse. Even ladybugs are a sign of good luck.

I believe in the ladybug, the horseshoe, the wandering eyelash. When I was a kid, I always looked for a four leaf clover. I avoid the risk of breaking mirrors, walking under ladders and opening umbrellas inside. I annoy my coworkers all the time by knocking on wood whenever something is said that could jinx us.  You might say that I’m superstitious.

If you’re looking for a book to read while sipping on your delicious shamrock shake, or eating corned beef and cabbage, why not try one of these books?

Lucky by Rachel Vail Book Cover
Lucky by Rachel Vail
It’s all good . . . and lucky Phoebe Avery plans to celebrate by throwing an end-of-the-year bash with her four closest friends. Everything will be perfect–from the guest list to the fashion photographer to the engraved invitations. The only thing left to do is find the perfect dress . . . until Phoebe goes from having it all to hiding all she’s lost.
Lucky 13: Survival in Space Richard Hilliard
Lucky 13: Survival in Space Richard Hilliard
In April 1970, three astronauts aboard Apollo 13 launched into space on a mission to explore the surface of the moon. But that mission was never completed. As they began the routine procedure for landing the spacecraft on the lunar surface there was an explosion. Astronaut Jim Lovell radioed Mission Control with the now famous words, “Houston, we have a problem”. All over the world, people followed the plight of the astronauts and their race against time.
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage Book Cover
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
Washed ashore as a baby in tiny Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, Mo LoBeau, now eleven, and her best friend Dale turn detective when the amnesiac Colonel, owner of a café and co-parent of Mo with his cook, Miss Lana, seems implicated in a murder.
Ship out of Luck by Neal Shusterman Book Cover
Ship out of Luck by Neal Shusterman
In honor of Old Man Crawley’s eightieth birthday, the Bonano family has been invited to celebrate with a weeklong cruise to the Caribbean aboard the world’s largest, grandest ship. But whether on land or at sea, Antsy can’t manage to stay out of trouble: He quickly finds himself the accomplice of stowaway and thief Tilde, whose self-made mission it is to smuggle onto the ship and across the U.S. border illegal immigrants from her native Mexico. When Antsy steps in to take the fall for Tilde, he becomes the focus of a major international incident and the poster child for questionable decisions.

As Easy As Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins Book Cover
As Easy As Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins
A teenaged boy encounters one comedic calamity after another when his train strands him in the middle of nowhere, and everything comes down to luck.
Posted in The Middle: GEPL Middle School

YA Audiobooks

By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian

The Young Elites by Marie Lu Audiobook CoverAs many of you already know, I have a long commute. I spend at least an hour, often more, each way to and from work here at the library. A lot of times when people hear this, I get some variation of the question “How do you stand it?” There are a few answers, of course, including the fact that I love my job, and I love where I live, so it’s worth it. But there’s one huge factor that really makes the commute better – audiobooks!

I spend the vast majority of the time in my car listening to audiobooks, and they don’t just make my commute alright, they often make it really fun. And I’m here to tell you that even if you don’t spend hours and hours every week in a car, you should still pick up an audiobook every now and then. We’ve just purchased a whole bunch of young adult audiobooks here at the library, so you can find a great selection of great YA books on CD all in one place. Not feeling the CDs? Try using one of our ebook and eaudiobook apps like Hoopla or Overdrive on your phone. And as for why you should go through all this?

Unwind by Neal Shusterman Audiobook CoverHere’s three reasons to add audiobooks to your reading repertoire:

They allow you to multitask. Now, I’m not saying you’ll be able to do homework while you listen – you’ll definitely lose concentration on one or the other if you try. But audiobooks are great while you’re cleaning, walking, running, or doing anything that doesn’t require a ton of mental effort. They can even be good for some of your hobbies. I know a professional photographer who listens to audiobooks while he edits photos, and they can make a great background for while you’re doing things like cooking, art, crafting, coloring, etc.

They bring something new to the reading experience. Some books I really love I’ve both read physically and listened to on audiobook, and it’s amazing how many things I caught on the audio that I missed reading. Whether it’s nuances of phrasing or tone, details that I catch when I’m forced to slow down and comprehend every word, or just a different interpretation of a character, listening to a book can sometimes be a totally different experience than reading it. But don’t worry – it still counts as reading!

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell Audiobook CoverThe narrators! Sometimes, audiobooks are narrated by celebrities we love, like Lin-Manuel Miranda reading Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, or the range of celebrities including Mae Whitman and Sophie Turner who narrate Cassandra Clare’s books, or Jesse Eisenberg’s rendition of White Cat by Holly Black. You can also find celebrities narrating their own books, like Tyler Oakley’s Binge or Mindy Kaling reading her essays in Why Not Me? And even when the narrators aren’t celebrities, they can make an audiobook something spectacular. Two different narrators give each section a unique feel in Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, Rebecca Soler does a wonderful job with each entry in Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, and an entire cast brings The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman to life.

So next time you’re at the library, peruse our selection of YA audiobooks to find a new great listen, or ask at the information desk about eaudiobooks. Speaking from personal experience, listening to a book can add something special to your reading life!

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School