Iowa: Virtual Road Trip First Stop

As the state-wide Youth Services Consultant, I get to know great teen services librarians doing wonderful things in Iowa’s communities.  Two of Iowa’s outstanding teen  services iowalibrarians report here on initiatives at their libraries:

Burlington Public Library (Burlington, Iowa) by Samantha Helmick

Outreach is a major strategy in Teen Services at the Burlington Public Library. Since piloting a monthly Book Talk program with community middle schools nearly three years ago, we have enjoyed growing participation in teen events, afterschool programs, meaningful feedback and relationships from teen users and increased YA check out.

I have been honored to pass the torch to the very capable and passionate hands of our Youth Services Librarian, Becky Ruberg. This year, she helped library teens organize demonstrations at City Council meetings to support the YA collection budget, coordinated a county wide Teen Job Skills Workshop and Teen Job Fair and created an alliance with Burlington’s Junior Optimists.

The Optimists pay the dues for Teen Advisory Board members and sponsor teen programs at the library. The TAB members each give a minimum of four hours of service to assist the Junior Optimists in the mutual goal to give back and support their community.

Through this merger, both groups have rebranded as TICOS which stands for Teens Inspiring Change, Optimism and Service. This partnership and programming has allowed teens to expand their influence in their community and support young adult initiatives at their library.

Council Bluffs Public Library (Council Bluffs, Iowa) by Anna Hartmann

There is no question that the best ideas for teen services come from teens. This doesn’t have to mean you have a thriving Teen Advisory Board—we all know how challenging that can be to keep alive! In my case, it has come from building relationships that encourage the teens in my library to share their ideas.

Last fall, a teen volunteer and current high school senior, came to me and asked if the library offered any college scholarship opportunities for our volunteers. For some time the library staff has been mulling over how to recognize our teen volunteers for their many contributions. We’d considered T-shirts, pizza parties, and gift certificates, but everything had its limitations. When my volunteer came to me about a scholarship, I thought: GOLD!

I presented to our Friends group in January and they agreed to sponsor an annual scholarship for 1 to 2 teen volunteers. After the meeting, I sent a message to the teen that made the suggestion. I was so proud to discover that he was more excited about the idea that the scholarship will be available to future volunteers than he was that he would be able to apply for it himself. Unfortunately we can’t provide scholarships to all of our volunteers, but we can create a competitive scholarship that would at least give all of our fabulous teens a great opportunity. And at the end of the day, that’s what the library is about for teens—a place of opportunities.

–Submitted with pride on behalf of Samantha and Anna, by Merri M. Monks, Youth Services Consultant, Iowa Library Services/State Library of Iowa

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