I am about to finish my first year as a real full-time librarian.  While my education was invaluable in starting my career as a YA librarian, it definitely did not prepare me for everything.  I have learned a lot this year and am looking forward to applying these skills to next year.

First off, kids have too much energy.  They like to be sassy towards authority figures.  I expected some of this, but not to the extent I experienced it.  I now have a very solid set of rules displayed and all of the kids and adults are subject to them.  No matter what.  I let one kid bargain with me once and it ruined the next two weeks.  I know when to be lenient and when to be harsh.  Most importantly, the teens now know exactly what my rules are and that they will be kicked out if they don’t follow them. Read More →

Finding new programming ideas for teens is tough, particularly when it comes to crafts.  With them, the trends are changing so fast.  I started to plan my Breaking Dawn party, only to find myself made fun of by most of my teens.  Apparently, Twilight is over at my library.  I was really excited to play Pin the Tail on Jacob, too.  Then, I don’t know if this craft is good for boys and girls or if it’s too “babyish”.  I have tried asking the kids for ideas, but, for the most part, I get the standard teen “I don’t know…” response.  So what’s a teen librarian to do?  Here are the options I have found.

  1.  Listservs: are a godsend, especially YA-YAAC when it comes to programming and crafts.   Someone on that list will have tried whatever you are thinking of and tell you how it worked out.  All you librarians are a great sounding board for ideas and sometimes I check my email and think about how genius you all are.  Plus, there is a circulating list of all the great YA programming sites, such as the4YA and Abby the Librarian (Not me, an even cooler Abby).
  2.  Pinterest.com:  Most of you have already found this website, I’m sure.  I am on this thing daily.  It is chock-full of easy ways to make crafts and fun things to do to entertain yourself  or your patrons.  It puts all of your favorite ideas (and everyone else’s) on to one easy-to-use website, with links back to the original sites.  It’s a beautiful thing.  Plus, it’s great for stress relief, because lots of people “pin” pretty clothes and cute dogs, too.
  3. Design*Sponge:  Mostly aimed at adults, this website has tons of awesome DIY that you can cater to your teens.  I tried the clothespin mirror myself and it was really easy and really cheap.  And again, lots of pretty other things to look at to de-stress.  Or stress, because you can’t afford that gorgeous $300 blanket from Malaysia.

It is really amazing how much is out there, now that I have started looking.  Again, I think you all are the best resources, so emailing each other for more websites (since I am sure there are quite a few I missed) and ideas will probably give you more crafts than you ever needed.

I am noticing a big problem at a lot of libraries – mine in particular, since, you know, I’m there a lot.  The problem is that the teen patrons only talk to the teen librarian. When I’m not there, reference questions go unasked.  Books stay missing.  Computers go unused.  They are scared to talk to anyone else.  A girl approached me that had been looking for a book for three weeks that was sitting on the shelves the whole time because she was too intimidated to ask anyone but me what the call number meant.

The kids, being kids and all, come in after school and are noisy.  Shocking to all of you, I know.  Since when are kids noisy?  It bothers other patrons and usually ends with a staff member scolding them.  This scolding is usually the only time the teen patrons interact with any other members of the library staff.  They only know people I think of as helpful and kind as yelling, angry adults.  Thus, they avoid them.  I am in the YA room nearly every day for multiple hours, so I am a familiar, friendly (I hope) face.  I have talked to them, so they know that they can talk to me.  The rest of the staff are all really fantastic people that would be happy to help the teen patrons, but the teens are afraid and refuse to approach them.

I’m doing my best to encourage the teens to go to the staff with their questions.  I have supplied the other reference librarians with book lists and summer reading lists so that they are well-equipped for reader’s advisory and other YA questions.  As you all well know, the teen years are when libraries lose most patrons.  I want to make sure that we are showing these kids that the library is a place they are welcome to be in.  If they feel welcome, they will keep coming here well past their teen years.  The question is how to get my staff involved?  I am guessing that many of you have dealt with a similar problem.  What did you do?  I’d love some advice to make my teen population feel more comfortable.

I started my first full-time library position in March in a small town library.  Taking over for a librarian who had been there for close to 50 years – pretty much since they have had a YA librarian – is a bit daunting, as you might imagine.  Things have always been done as she has done them and, while I have lots of ideas, I don’t want to step on any toes or do anything the teens will hate, so I’m nervous.

We’re going with the travel theme, as many libraries are, and I’m taking my Children’s Librarian’s advice:  change a few things here and there, but for the first year stick to what’s been done.  The librarian I took over for is, luckily, still around to answer my questions.  So, I am (mostly) doing what she did.  There will be raffles and prizes.  I will be counting minutes and having 3-4 events.  The kids around here travel a lot – going to summer camp, on vacation, summers in Tuscany (I’m not sure on this one, but I have a sneaking suspicion it’s true for some of them).  I’m guessing turnout won’t be all that great, but I want to make it awesome for those that do show up.  How do I know if I’m not doing enough or if I am doing way too much?

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