Teens, Autonomy and TTW

Think back to when you were a teenager- no matter how long ago that was.  You probably remember fights with your parents over curfews and independence.  You wanted autonomy.  This still holds true today. One thing we routinely hear from our Teen Advisory Board is that they want to be involved, they want leadership opportunities and responsibilities.  They want to be involved in planning and implementing programs for younger children and they want to help with summer reading events for small children.  This inspired us in planning for Teen Tech Week.

Our library has wanted to hold a workshop on smartphone photography for adults and seniors.  However, the planning  of this workshop had stalled until the opportunity for Teen Tech Week came about.  What better way to give teens leadership and responsibility than by inviting them to help us plan and implement this workshop.  Teens often have technology experience and skills far beyond those of adults, so it is only natural to incorporate them into the design of this workshop.  Teens are invited to help us brainstorm a workshop to help adults learn to take quality photos with their smartphones and how to share the photos electronically.  We hope to discuss basic photography skills such as focus, zoom and basic composition as well as popular apps for editing and sharing photos.  In conjunction with this activity, teens are invited to participate in a photo contest.

Continuing the theme of utilizing teens’ skills and experience as well as their desire for leadership and independence, we are going to invite them for a discussion on what it means to be a responsible digital citizen.  Library staff will lead and guide a discussion on protecting your personal data online, and controlling your digital footprint.  We also hope to incorporate “fake news” and current events into this discussion.  Teens will then have the opportunity to create library displays, an educational bulletin board or other informational materials to share this knowledge with the community.  Again, this allows teens to creatively share their knowledge with a wider audience.  Along with this program, we will ask teens and tweens to create anti-cyberbullying posters for the library.  This will allow teens to inform younger children about how to protect themselves online, and how to stand up to cyberbullying.

Lastly, it was our goal in planning Teen Tech Week that we encourage young women in technology and other STEM studies.  We have partnered with a local college’s Women’s Engineering Club.  The club will provide hands on activities such as Makey Makey and Lego Robotics in addition to the library’s Ozobots, 3Doodlers and circuit stickers. Giving teens hands on experiences with fun technology is important.  But we also wanted to provide role models, particularly to girls.

Our plans for Teen Tech Week look to meet our teens’ needs by providing them with opportunities to share their knowledge, build their leadership skills, and foster a library environment for teens that promotes respect.   This year’s Teen Tech Week slogan, “Be the Source of Change” implores libraries to be sources of positive change, starting with our teens.  What better way to do that by giving them autonomy.

Melanie Miller is the Director of the Alfred Box of Books Library located in Alfred, NY, a recipient of YALSA’s Teen Tech Week 2017 Grant.

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