The Perks of Collaboration

Any teen librarian who is fortunate enough to work with a talented children’s librarian knows that the possibilities for collaborating on innovative programs are endless, providing youth from birth to young adulthood with programming that meets their developmental, social, and educational needs. If you haven’t taken the opportunity to work closely with your children’s librarian on a project, there’s no better time than now to do so. Why collaborate? Here are three good reasons:

1. Youth-oriented resource
While teens aren’t their primary focus, children’s librarians are just as concerned with the development of youth as teen librarians, so working together on collaborative programs not only benefits the youth the library serves but the librarians themselves. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that there’s another resource within the library who understands the unique demands of serving youth and shares your vision on how to do so; someone whose support and knowledge are invaluable tools, especially when working together on tween programs and those that provide mentoring possibilities for teens. Joint teen/children’s projects can provide librarians with much-needed resource-sharing and insight.

2. Assets builder
Collaborative programs can provide teens with opportunities to mentor younger participants, and in some settings, earn the teens service credit as volunteers. Not only do these joint efforts reinforce many of the 40 Developmental Assets for adolescents, but they effectively and organically grow future teen participants in library programs. For example, our system has offered a successful “Reading Buddies” program for years, and many of the teen “Big Buddies” who mentored young readers this past summer are “Little Buddies” graduates and are equally as comfortable working with the children’s librarian as they are with the teen librarian. Programs such as this help develop strong, self-actualized teens while encouraging children to see themselves as future library leaders.

3. Entertaining process and product
Who else can appreciate teen programs such as creating “Gocks” or playing extreme musical chairs? Why, the same person who makes paper plate masks: the children’s librarian, of course! Brainstorming with the children’s librarian when you’re seemingly fresh out of ideas will get both of your creative juices flowing, and when the intent is to come up with a joint program that will attract youth to the library, then bouncing ideas off one another may result in something that can be developed into an engaging and innovative program. Turn the library into a giant game board? We can do that! Have teens help children build and decorate spooky, edible gingerbread houses in October? No problem! There’s no limit to what can be accomplished when teen and children’s librarians work together.

Whether you’re looking to expand your programming repertoire, create volunteer opportunities for your teens, or just find a comrade-in-arms, then look no further than your friendly children’s librarian, one of the best resources for a teen librarian. You’ll be glad you did.