During the 2018-2019 School Year, I was invited to start attending the SAC meetings for a local high school’s magnet programs. As the only adult services librarian of a small library, I certainly did not need more things to do, especially when much of my time is spent doing administrative tasks such as planning a major renovation project, purchasing, managing budget lines, and processing related paperwork. I was honored to attend as I’m a people person and the Community’s Librarian, I feel it is vital to be engaged with the community in different ways.
While attending the SAC meetings, I learned that students in some of the magnet programs were required to do an internship and all students were required to volunteer. Teachers told me that finding paid internships was difficult but necessary for many of the students who need to help their families with a paycheck. I informed the board that I could certainly provide internship opportunities for a few students but was not able to pay for them. Over 90% of the students in our city limits qualify for free or reduced lunch programs at the neighborhood schools so when I saw the Dollar General/ YALSA Summer Teen Intern Grant program I eagerly applied knowing this would help someone in my community if I received the grant.
I was thrilled to be chosen and created job ads for the positions. Knowing our library would be closing down for renovations in the end of July, I decided to create two positions for the first busy weeks of the Summer Reading Program. Not only did we post the job at the front service desk but I recruited students at the high school during their “Dress for Success” job skills event. I collaborated with our HR and Finance Departments and the teens had to fill out the same application that we have for any job openings at our Village. I conducted interviews for the position following the same types of questions and scoring guidelines as I do for our part time circulation clerk position. Two teens stood apart from the group which attests to great mentoring by library staff as both top candidates had been part of our youth volunteer programs and one was an officer of our Teen Advisory Board. Both students were able to answer the questions clearly and articulate their answers by describing their experiences working with people or technology. Both were dressed to impress! The young man had even shined their shoes!
The interview process led me to begin a Youth Leadership Series for the summer to teach job preparation skills and introduce teens to the public library and its services. The two YALSA Summer Interns participated in this series that covered aspects of differences between public libraries, Library Advocacy, local government, the importance of getting to know the organization when one starts in a new job as well as many tips about how to fill out an application, creating a resume, and preparing for an interview.
In addition to the Youth Leadership series and assisting patrons to sign up for the Summer Reading Program, the YALSA Summer interns had a special project during the Summer Reading Program with the Children’s Librarian. They each were given a book and a craft they were responsible for presenting during Bilingual Preschool Storytime. They engaged the attendees in activities by asking questions and allowing interaction with the book. Both interns learned about early literacy education, the reasons for: placement of furniture/ items in the room and why there is social time in the Children’s Section of the library prior to storytime as well as the importance of routines for early learners. Interacting with preschoolers can be a challenge and both learned flexibility and how to “think on their feet”. In addition to storytimes, they assisted our Children’s Librarian with several other summer library programs such as our PAWS-to-Read with a Delta certified Reading Dog.
Working with the interns and other teen volunteers was definitely the spark I needed this summer!
Suvi Manner is the Library Director at Palm Springs Public Library, FL. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. To others interested in this project: I am available to provide feedback about working with teams with other staff when mentoring teens/ youth volunteers as well as any insight about working with HR and Finance Departments when administering a grant. Our library is also very active in community outreach and partnering with other organizations to serve the community.