It has been a pleasure to help shape the National Guidelines for Teen Spaces in public libraries. The task force would like to thank the YALSA Board for giving us the opportunity to help define the standards for the teens who we all know and value. Hailing from a range of library environments (suburban, rural, urban), we were able to consider diverse service angles to create a document that would be accessible to all library staff working with teens. The guidelines offer suggestions for shaping spaces of all sizes by defining the essential characteristics for engagement in the space available. Because teens engage so heavily in digital media, we deemed it necessary to afford the same measure of attention to virtual spaces as physical space considerations.
An important concept running through the guidelines is the idea of teen ownership in defining and maintaining both physical and virtual spaces. Teens are able to create content in any popular digital platform, it makes sense that teens would expect to do the same in their library’s virtual space and it makes sense for libraries to pay attention to this. Teens expect to be able to interact with digital content and share ownership of information relevant to them. The way teens interact with content in popular virtual environments should help define the way in which a library structures their online presence with teens. Simply feeding information through librarian created content is no longer an effective means of reaching teens and engaging them in the library’s virtual space. Giving teens leadership in creating library content gives them ownership of their library space. There are a range of possibilities for teens to create content for libraries : online book, music, game, website reviews, facebook pages, twitter feeds about library events or programs, how to videos for creating facebook cover photos, personalized google maps of your town/city. The key is what information is relevant to your teens, what kind of content do they want to create or learn to create and how can your library facilitate that to give them ownership of their space.
How could your library give teens ownership of their virtual space?