Virtual Road Trip: Rhode Island

Coincidentally and fortunately, both of Rhode Island’s contributors decided to share how they are staying in touch with teens to develop popular programs, create welcoming teen spaces, and build relationships. In that same spirit, “hi” from all of us in the Ocean State!sic-rhode-island

Where everyone knows your name: Back to Basics in Teen Services

When I see a young adult in the library whom I don’t know, I go up and introduce myself. It’s such a simple step that it can be easy to overlook!

The Cumberland Public Library has undergone many personnel changes in the last year and as a result, we are taking this opportunity to reinvent our teen area and the services we offer for teens.’  However, the simple act of getting to know their names has created the most successful change so far!

Do the teens think I’m a little crazy?’  At first.’  But when you treat your population of young adults with respect, and you demonstrate that you care about what they think and what they are interested in, amazing things happen! I’ve built a reputation as an adult who cares, and the library has built a reputation as a place that is welcoming.’  Circulation is up because I know first-hand what the teens want to read. Program numbers have skyrocketed because we are offering programs that teens have requested.’  Next time you are looking to solve a problem or provide a service in an innovative way, never underestimate the power of, “Hi! I’m —–.’  What’s your name?”

Jennifer Cournoyer
Young Adult / Reference Librarian
Cumberland Public Library

The Power of Teen Surveys

The Teen Zone at the Pawtucket Public Library is about to undergo some changes, thanks to a recent grant from the Champlain Foundation (who awards grants to tax-exempt organizations almost exclusively in RI) for renovations. Our goal is to provide a more comfortable and exclusive place for the teens we serve. As you can imagine, we want to make sure we get it right. To help us do our best, I created a survey asking local teens what changes they want in their area of the library, offering a generous gift card as an incentive.

To ensure a wide audience and visibility, both a paper and online version was created. Unsurprisingly, the online form received the most submissions by far, confirming my suspicions about the digital savviness of the teen demographic. These responses will assist us moving forward in designing a more welcoming space.Pawtucket RI Library Suggestion Box

Surveys are useful in many situations, and for Teen Librarians, they can really help us get a handle on teen interests and allows them an opportunity to be heard as well. (This is particularly important when you do not have a Teen Advisory Board, or TAB.) When not running a particular survey, I leave out a suggestion box and questions on what programs the teens might want, and the feedback and ideas have been very positive. If you’re looking to give your teens more of a voice, or lack a TAB, consider informal surveys. Have a volunteer decorate an eye catching submission box (or do it yourself!) and set out a questionnaire. Don’t forget to have an online component (like Google Forms) linked to your teen page!

Shannon Bloom
Teen and Reference Librarian
Pawtucket Public Library

Submitted by Cheryl Space, M.L.I.S.
Youth Services Coordinator/Library Program Specialist
RI Office of Library & Information Services

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