A recent ruling by the U.S. District Court in Utah has repercussions for how libraries serve teenagers. As a result of the ruling striking down portions of an anti-polyamory law, and the growing public acceptance of polyamory, we librarians have a new diversity to incorporate into our public services.
There are three basic ways to incorporate religion into teen programming: collaborate with religious organizations, outreach programming at a religious event or location, and programming with a religious theme. By the end of this post, you should feel empowered to take these best practices into your own programming, and to your coworkers.
Just like the civic groups libraries frequently collaborate with (Kiwanis, United Way, schools, etc.), religious organizations have what libraries desire most in our programming: people. When you collaborate with a religious organization, you’ve automatically got an audience, who you can now market to more effectively, and, if you’ve planned your program well, participation in the collaborative effort will be natural. By opening the library to collaborations with religious institutions, you also gain access to additional funding—either monetary in nature or in volunteer hours. Collaborations with religious organizations help the library expand services to a greater number of its patrons than it could have done on its own.
Religion is commonly grouped with politics as a topic libraries avoid programming with, bypass in reference interviews, and circumlocute in collection development. Treating religion this way is a disservice to our teens as well as other library patrons. Religion is intrinsic to our patrons’ lives; every individual — even those who do not opt in to religious observance — has a religious life. Religion informs our news, culture, education, and community life. No library is exempt from this; every library has religious patrons. A Facebook graph search is a simple way to test this assertion. Continue reading
In an era where every library dollar needs to be justified, should teen services departments continue purchasing nonfiction?
YA librarians are in the perfect matrix to consider this question: patrons aren’t bringing their reference questions to library staff, teachers aren’t asking students to cite print sources, information discovery on the web is incredibly easy, and personal web access is growing ubiquitous. Continue reading
Spring brings a time crunch for teen librarians everywhere: as the school year wraps up, public librarians must amp up for summer reading, and school librarians must set the media center to rights in those last, finals-crammed weeks. There is no easier time of year to overwork ourselves. However, if we wish our superiors to know our value, and if we care for a true work-life balance, the 40 hour work week must be honored. Continue reading
Though teen services are usually defined as serving patrons in the 12-18 age range, in practice, teen librarians serve a broader range of patrons than merely 12-18 year olds—from 10 year olds with mature tastes and reading abilities, to college students uninterested in transitioning to adult fiction, to grandparents pulled to teen books by the young adults in their lives and the quality of the materials.
In serving this broad age range with teen materials, I find that I need to have different cultural glasses at the ready during readers’ advisory. After all, the patron whose adolescent experience is being molded right now, page by page, is different from the patron who fondly recollects reading a particular book the summer when she first fell in love.
Here is some information we teen librarians can use during readers’ advisory to guide adults to new teen titles similar to those they loved in their adolescence. Continue reading
For the past few years, the topic of establishing healthy habits at an early age has garnered much news, investigation, and governmental action across the nation. As centers for community life and lifelong education, libraries are uniquely positioned to contribute to the formation of these healthy habits in young people. Indeed, given the special role of social responsibility many libraries assume in their charters and mission statements, supporting healthy habit formation may be viewed as a necessity in your library.
The Indiana State Department of Health summarizes the need for and suggests a direction to library involvement in this issue: “Ideally, population-based, sustainable approaches for changing the weight status, diet, and physical activity of people should include creating environments, policies, and practices that support increases in physical activity and improvements in diet, especially among those disproportionately affected by poor health. Interventions should go beyond people acquiring new knowledge and allow people to build the skills and practice the behaviors leading to a healthy weight. Supportive environments are necessary to sustain healthy behaviors.” [emphasis mine] (Indiana State Department of Health 2011)
What follows is a list of activities young adult librarians can put into practice to stimulate interest in and action towards healthy habit formation with their teen patrons.
Confession: I have a graveyard of programs that did not work at my library. I am an enthusiastic programmer, and with no quantitative data on what teen programs worked at my library in the decade before I arrived, I have enjoyed free rein in attempting a vast variety of programs. Unfortunately, any great number of these programs have fallen flat, especially technology-related teen programs.
So with all apologies to Teen Tech Week, I’m declaring that technology-related programming does not work at my library. Continue reading
If the joy of collection development is purchasing, then its horror must be weeding. As a book lover and person whose daily work is to develop the love of reading in others, I, like many librarians, am emotionally connected to the books in my collection. That emotional connection makes weeding excruciating. Continue reading
A major goal of every YA librarian is to increase her market share, that is, to increase the number of teenagers using her library and those teens’ level of engagement in the library. In my experience, the most reliable and lasting way to accomplish this goal is for the YA librarian to actively embed herself in her community.