Dollars & Sense #31: Libraries Looking Toward the New Year

I am a child of the late 70’s and 80’s.’  When I was a kid, we believed that by the year 2000, we would be flying around with jet packs, and living on the moon.’  However, here we are in what is about to be 2010, and these things have yet to have happened.’  You may be wondering “Where is she going with this?”…

My point is simply this: we have no idea what the future will bring, we can only speculate.’  In looking at the New Year, we need to focus on the certainties and less on the things that require guesswork.

Yes, we can speculate that there will be more budget cuts in the coming year.’  Yes, these cuts will probably have a big impact on libraries; however, we don’t know any of the certainties or details of what these cuts will entail or what they might mean for our communities.’ 

Here are the things we do know for certain:

1. Libraries are community centers. They are the places that teens go to when there is no one at home and’  there is no where else to go.’  They come to libraries to fulfill a variety of needs, many of which are basics.

2.’  Teens are counting on us.’  Regardless of how much the budget is cut or who has to work more hours on what, teens will expect to see us at the libraries offering activities and comfortable places of escape.

3.’  We are and have to be the role models for our teens and our communities.’  We need to be positive and encouraging and remain strong in the face of adversity.’  Because if we give up, won’t that teach our teens that it is ok to quit and that nothing is worth fighting for? They need to know that they are worth fighting for!

4.’  We will need to be our own advocates.’  Resources are slim and the competition for them has grown stronger.’  However, we need to be armed with our ALA: Advocacy ToolKit , our elevator speech, and a conglomerate of teens with “I Love My Library” signs and t-shirts. It is up to us to incite passion for libraries in our communities and to influence our lawmakers to do the right thing and support their local libraries.

5.’  We will need to continue to find and share inexpensive resources to continue making teen services run well.’  I encourage everyone to share resources, websites, and ideas on electronic formats such as the YALSA blog!’  By doing this, you could get many answers to your own questions, as well as provide answers to other people’s questions. Continue taking advantage of online course opportunities, toolkits, and tips lists as provided by YALSA and ALA.’  We are in this together; so, why shouldn’t we help each other out.’ 

This year is going to be tough, no doubt about it. We can sit around and watch things happen to us or we can make things happen. Teens everywhere are counting’  on us whether we know it or not.’ 

I think about the reasons why I am a librarian today, and I can recall how much the library meant to me.’  It was a place where people cared and where I could escape all the negatives going on around me.’  For many teens, even today, the library has taken on the same meaning.’ 

I challenge each teen librarian/youth services librarian/specialist/teacher out there to share at least one idea this year on the YALSA blog, so that we can learn from each other.’  YALSA’s President Linda Braun’s theme for this year is “Risky Business.” Clearly the fiscal dilemmas are going to be tough, but we need to be willing to take risks for what we believe in and the services we are providing.’ 

What risk are you willing to take for your teen services? We can’t know what 2010 will bring for teen libraries and teen library services, but what we do know is that we have a choice in how we will let it impact our teens and our communities.

About Krista McKenzie

I am a Children's Specialist at the Ruth Enlow Library in Garrett County, Maryland. I work with kids from the ages of 0 to 18 and am also a reference librarian. In addition, I am member of the YALSA Legislative Committee, and the Children's Services Division of the Maryland Library Association.
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