28 Days of Advocacy #8 – How a Teen Services Vision can be a Solid Advocacy Tool

Does your organization have a teen services vision? If so, great! If not, it may be time to think about one.

A teen services vision can have a variety of applications including defining partnerships with community agencies and also solidifying teen services within your organization.’  If you have a teen services vision, drafted and agreed upon by teen services staff, you have a statement
that can:

  • Act as a guide for teen services priority and decision-making.
  • Act as a clear indicator that teen services staff speak with one voice and has a vision beyond the immediate work of teen services.
  • Act as a way to tell the “teen services story” to colleagues, administrators, Board of Trustees,’  your Friends of the Library, and the community at large.
  • Act as a tool in documents and proposals for funds, partnerships and other kinds of operational support.

Drafting the statement allows teen services staff to have a substantial discussion on what the most critical elements of teen services are, and how they can be communicated. It creates opportunities to build buy-in and foster innovative thinking about teen services.

Discussing the vision statement encourages staff to evaluate the current state of teen services in the organization, what needs changed, and how a vision statement can cultivate that change by being a toll in further advocacy discussions.

Where to start:

First, talk with the appropriate administrators about drafting the statement. Make sure they understand why this will benefit the organization as a whole.’  You must have support from administration or the vision won’t have as much punch as it could have.

Once administration knows about and is supportive of a teen services vision, start the conversation among staff. Depending on your organization, you may want to expand the conversation to children’s services staff or even general staff.

Drafting a vision takes time, patience, and a lot of conversation. While it isn’t a UN Peace Treaty,’  everyone will have ideas and issues and this task will provide an opportunity to reflect on the priorities and teen services philosophies of colleagues.

This may take weeks, or even months to iron out, depending on the frequency of meetings, number of staff, and current climate of teen services. Maybe the clear idea of what teen services means to your staff and organization is ready to be articulated, or maybe you will feel like you are starting from square one. Regardless, the investment will pay off in later negotiations and communications.

Here is Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Teen Services Vision:

We will develop diverse and flexible programming, pro-active outreach, strong and adaptable collections and continuing education for our colleagues that will promote and deliver information and social literacy services to teens.

This vision has been used in a number of documents, from our initial gaming proposal to documents given to administrators to tell the teen services story. Notice the cornerstones of teen services are paired with adjectives to indicate the breadth and depth of our dedication.

I encourage you to start this conversation in your organization. Not only will you have a succinct but powerful document to share, it will inspire great conversation among teen services staff and potentially reinvigorate teen services priorities.

Julie Scordato
Teen Services Specialist
Columbus Metropolitan Library
Columbus, OH

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