I know that there are many articles, workshops, and blog entries circulating on teen spaces.Most of these revolve around the physical trappings of the area:what furniture did we buy, how did we find the space, what paint colors did we use, etc. Most prominently, they state how they got the money for this project. Who gave it, and how did we talk them into it? Having a teen space is seen as a vital part of serving teens. But where does that leave libraries that, for whatever reason, can’t get the funding?Or what if, no matter how supportive your administration is, they can’t enlarge your teen space any more than it is?
I am of the opinion that even if funding can’t be acquired, we can do simple, cost-effective things to make the teens feel at home in whatever space we have. Here’s a few things my library has done in the past few months.
Make a scrapbook of teen photosâ€”Take photos of teens at your library doing homework, volunteering, or attending events and put them in an inexpensive photo album. Use whatever scrapbooking skills you have to make it fun. Use a collage style. Put the scrapbook somewhere in your teen section with a sign: Are YOU in our Hall of Fame? Teens love looking at pictures. This is a simple way to show teens that this is their library. It’s also a great advertising tool and may convince teens that don’t attend your program to begin doing so. Total cost: $10 or less; save money by printing pictures on regular copy paper.
Put teen art in your teen space or anywhere in your libraryâ€”Call local schools and ask them to consider bringing a class project to your library. Place a sign near the art that says which school and what grades are represented. During your TAB or TAG meetings, have teens make small art pieces and place them on your shelves.Our wonderful lamp lets us hang teen art all year long. We also recently had an art teacher put up a pole gallery in our space (Thanks, Mr. Sands). Total cost: Free
Let teens paint in their spaceâ€”Let teens make the space their own by allowing them to paint the bookends. Bookends can be painted with book themes. Make sure to prime the bookends first.
Find ways to let teens recommend booksâ€”Teens will read books that other teens suggest. Allow your TAB or book club members to mark their favorites. Give each teen a laminated set of bookmarks that have their name on it. You can also use clothespins with laminated tags on them that you pin to the book. For a more creative touch, let teens make collage cards in the style of Post Secret that recommend favorite books. Stick the cards into similar books.
I’m sure there are many other wonderful ideas to make teen spaces truly theirs with minimal or no cost. What ideas have you put into practice that have worked well?