Imagine this: You work in a library in which anything goes. Money is no object. Space is no object. Staffing is no object. Going out into the community is no object. And so on. If you worked in that library what would your wildest and craziest ideas for serving teens be?
- Have libraries all over the community but not in a traditional library facility? For example, a library in the pizza place where teens go every day after school and every weekend? A library in the clothing store where teens go to see the latest fashions? A library in the park where teens hang out?
- Make sure that every teen in the community - no matter what their book reading preference - was a library user in some way?
- Give every teen a tablet of some kind with free Internet access so they could download books and apps, play games, do homework, talk with friends, participate in social media from everywhere anytime?
- Create a large wide-open physical library space for teens where they could collaborate on projects, hangout with friends, eat and have pizza delivered, watch movies, play games, and read and do homework?
- Have the most up-to-date technology possible available to every teen in the community without filters of any kind?
- Go to every meeting of community groups that have some connection to teens and/or education and become highly involved in all those that you might collaborate with?
- Regularly speak to elected officials and community members about youth development, developmental assets, and the ways in which the library helps teens to achieve these?
- Have the physical library teen space, no matter where it is, open 24/7 so that teens can have the access they need to resources, experts, etc. at any time of day, or night?
- Be able to make changes to library programs and services on a nimble and flexible basis? No waiting for making sure something is perfect before it launches. No waiting to get approvals. Beta testing of projects is the norm.
- Make sure that every library staff member and member of the community always gives teens the respect they deserve?
In order to be innovative it's important to think about the wildest and craziest possibilities so to get to what has true potential. I think that sometimes in libraries we get so caught up in the day-to-day that we forget to simply go crazy and think about what we would really like to see happen in order to give teens excellent service. ' Sure, there might be barriers. ' But who cares when you are being purposely crazy as a brainstorming technique? Maybe when you are thinking outside of the box you'll all of a sudden have an epiphany and realize that something you think is impossible is possible--you just have to tweak the concept a little bit. Or, maybe if you talk to others about your crazy ideas someone might say, "You know what, that's not so crazy really. We could do that if we just....."
So, go crazy. In the comments section of this post take a minute to write what are your wildest and craziest ideas in order to provide really great service to teens in the 21st century. Or, if you've had a crazy idea and thought it would never fly, but did, write that too. If you read someone's crazy idea and think of a way to make it work, post that. Lets all go crazy together and innovate for library teen services at the same time.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user David Dennis Photos.com