Article proposals for the Winter 2021 issue of YALSA’s journal, YALS are currently being sought. The theme for the issue is Youth Voices. Prospective articles include those that consider teen voice, what it is, how teens use it, and how we can provide support through library services, resources, and programming. How do we train ourselves to encourage and support teens who want to engage their communities and the world at large? Learn more and submit by Oct. 28.
TeenTober replaces YALSA’s previous Teen Read Week and Teen Tech Week celebrations to allow libraries the flexibility to celebrate all types of literacies according to their library and teen patrons’ schedule anytime during the month of October. It aims to celebrate teens, promote year-round teen services and the innovative ways teen services helps teens learn new skills, and fuel their passions in and outside the library. Library staff are also encouraged to utilize this new celebration to advocate for and raise awareness of the importance of year-round teen services in libraries.
To help libraries plan programming for TeenTober, YALSA has developed a list of suggested weekly topics for the celebration month:
- Week 1: Literacies
- Week 2: Writing
- Week 3: Technology & Gaming
- Week 4: Art & Music
Libraries are encouraged to adapt and alter the schedule to fit its library and teen patrons’ needs. Find more helpful resources related to planning, advocacy, and programs in the TeenTober toolkit. Don’t forget to also visit our Teen Programming HQ database to share and find more program ideas. Free marketing graphics such as a logo and social media graphics are also available. Share your celebration plans with @yalsa and join the conversation online with #TeenTober.
Like many of you, my anxiety levels are high due to all the changes in our current world. In Illinois, most K-12 schools have been closed since March 16, and the transition to e-learning is in full swing. My community college moved to the online environment on March 23 after an extended Spring Break. I’m privileged and thankful to be able to work from home, but it’s difficult to keep my teenager on track with e-learning and to balance the home and work duties, especially on the lovely Spring day last week when it was 70 degrees outside!
My library was in a fairly good place to transition all services to the virtual environment. We already use LibGuides and have subscriptions to many databases. I’m able to update everything from home, and login to my work computer through a virtual machine. But the quick transition to virtual meant learning to use quickly purchased campus-wide technologies like chat, Zoom, and Skype. All of these technology updates were sorely needed, but the learning curve was steep for many faculty and staff members! But we’re surviving. And serving our students the best way that we can.
And I know you all are, too. I reached out via Twitter to see how YALSA members were serving their teen patrons, and heard from two Illinois librarians. Tracey Virrorio, Teen Services Librarian at Plainfield Public Library District, utilized the teen-focused Instagram account (@plainfieldteens) to issue a call for a Virtual Teen Art Show.
Tracey is posting one piece of art daily and will be showcasing a gallery of images on the library’s Facebook account. What a great way to showcase teen quarantine creations!
School librarians are facing an uphill battle in some school districts. Worksheet packets and e-learning can only go so far. Belleville Public Schools are parking their wifi-enabled buses around town so that more people can use their wifi, but what about those students who have no one to drive them to a bus? Or don’t even own a device? How do we tackle issues like equity when the state orders e-learning to occur?
Mariela Martinez Siegert, School Librarian at Westfield Middle School, addressed the concerns that many of us have about equity:
“I think one of the things that concerns me so much as a school librarian is the elitist idea that everybody has Internet access or devices to participate in e-learning, remote learning or virtual learning. Or even the time. We have some students who are taking care of their younger siblings because their parents are working still or working from home. We have families whose only internet access is their phones data plan. We have families in rural areas that have no internet access and devices might be limited depending on the needs of the family. And, yes, there are some programs out there for free internet access, but there are some serious flaws with these programs. Our lower- and middle-class working families who are on a tight budget, or even a tighter budget now, can’t afford the Internet or the larger phone data plan at the moment.”
The stay-at-home edicts are widening the learning gaps that already exist and librarians are finding ways to help. Many educators in my professional learning network are stressing that the internet needs to be a public utility, available to all. Broadband needs to be everywhere and all students need to be equipped with a learning device to take home. Why are some districts more privileged than others?
YALSA has already been working to remove inequities within its own organization. An Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Statement and EDI Plan guides our work and much of our work already exists in the online environment. But how do these documents apply to your own library during COVID-19? How can libraries strive to eliminate inequities? How can YALSA help you do so? If you have any suggestions, please post in the comments!
Also, if you haven’t already, please consider donating to YALSA’s Give $20 in 2020 campaign. We want to continue to strengthen Friends of YALSA to fund member grants and awards because these help to eliminate inequities between our own members.
Sarah Hill, Financial Advancement Committee Member
YALSA President 2016-2017
Guest blogger Dorcas Wong of the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) provides this entry on her experience with a teen-led discussion of homelessness
In the Summer of 2019, with the help of teen librarian, Marla Bergman, a group of high school teens in the YELL program (Youth Engaged in Library Leadership) at the Excelsior Branch of the San Francisco Public Library developed and led a project on homelessness. They titled it Life in SF: Luck, Loss & Gain.
Current reports state that the Bay Area has the 3rd largest homeless population in the nation (bayareaeconomy.org). In response to this crisis, the YELL team chose to explore homelessness in San Francisco, along with socioeconomic inequality. The intention was to provide a platform to:
- Educate the community on these issues
- Foster more empathy for the people facing these challenges
- And, hopefully, inspire advocacy for positive change
There were two parts to this event.
First, participants played a board game. This game was effectively a modified Monopoly, inspired by a West Point teacher who altered the board game so his students would have a visceral experience of some of the obstacles of living in poverty (PaulsJusticePage.com). The game the teens designed was further altered to reflect San Francisco (e.g. properties, BART lines, and unique event cards).
For the second half, patrons were treated to an informative and animated panel discussion. This panel included:
- Ricky, a person experiencing homelessness (and patron grateful for library resources)
- Jessica Soto, a Health and Safety Associate part of the SFPL and SF Homeless Outreach Team
- Meghan Freebeck, CEO, Project Homeless Connect, Founder of Simply the Basics
- Manuel Rodriguez, Director, Community Action Partnerships, Urban Services YMCA
- Gayle Roberts, CDO, Larkin Street Youth Services
All questions were written and delivered by YELL members, who also created booklists, resource sheets, and publicity materials.
24 teens and adults attended this event, which was highly regarded by staff, the local community, and the library commission. There was one person who even wanted to purchase a game board to take back and share.
Thanks, Dorcas, for reporting on this event at San Francisco Public Library!
And as always, thanks for the work that you all do for and with teens.
Todd Krueger, YALSA President 2019-2020 | Twitter: @toddbcpl
When I was in elementary school, I grew up in a tiny town, a little over 800 people. The community library was right next to the elementary school. The library hosted pizza party book clubs, author events, and a public community space. The school had a partnership with the community library, kids would have class there and the school would buy children’s books. It was one of my first experiences with computers, the large bulky Apple iMacs that moved slower than molasses, were such a monumental experience for me. Hiding in the shelves, my eyes taking in every word I could at my tiny little library. When we moved to a slightly larger town (now 3000 people), the Jeudevine Library became a safe haven. During the summers in middle school I would spend hours at the Jeudevine, picking books upon books to take home. The library during Halloween was my favorite, hosting a ‘haunted library’ scavenger hunt with the librarians dressing up as famous literature characters, (this year, they were Alice in Wonderland characters!) While I can’t spend hours at the library like I used to, I see that spark of reading and curiosity in younger kids in my town. Even if they’re not reading, the boys in my town get together once the library is open to all play computer games together. Diane, the children’s librarian, gives them snacks. The regular visitors bring the 8 or more books from the past week, and check out another dozen books. The people who stop in once in a while, and those I can always count on seeing. I wouldn’t have met this community had I not been given the opportunity of being a teen intern at the Jeudevine Library.
I started volunteering my time at the library in January 2019. I taught a drop-in beginners knitting class for children after school. We would get regular kids coming back regularly and knitting. Community members donated piles of yarn and needles for children to use. As the summer started, the number of kids dropped, but one woman kept coming in and talking and knitting with me. She lived in Wolcott, a nearby town. She loved the Jeudevine Library and would keep coming back with her husband. She taught me about the ‘Shawl in a ball’ knitting pattern, knitting a shawl with one ball of yarn. She showed me jewelry she made, her pottery classes and her experiences going to college. (I’m a rising senior, she gave me some very good advice!) Having the hour each week to talk to library patrons and knit, allowing myself space to relax and recharge by doing something I love.
Before school was over, Diane told me about a grant she received. The grant was to hire a local teenager to help with events and marketing. She offered the grant to me if I wanted it, and of course I did. I hadn’t spent this much time in the Jeudevine because of high school, and the knitting class showed me the gem I had forgotten about. I immediately said yes, we worked out the details and my hours. I was so excited to continue the work I had started.
This year’s library theme was ‘A Universe of Stories’, all centered around space. Diane set up events around space, and I helped in any way I could. I helped manage Ed Pop Magic Show, Wall-E Movie Night, Story Walk on the Hardwick Trails, Story Time with Headstart, writing workshops, and puppet shows and a stargazing party hosted with a NASA volunteer. We’d also host Jeudevine Library story times at the Hardwick Farmers’ Market, reading books or hosting arts and crafts at the weekly markets. I would put up posters, post stuff online, and spread the word around to get more people involved and excited about the libraries’ events as I was. One of my favorite events to help was the Story Walk at the Hardwick Trails. I helped cut up ‘The Darkest Dark’ by Chris Hadfield, and tape them to stakes on the Hardwick Trails behind my high school. The mosquitoes on the Wednesday morning were fierce, and Diane and I had to tape 35 pages to the stakes quickly but thoroughly while getting massacred by bugs. We were giggling the entire time, running from post to post trying to not get bitten. We had bug spray on, but those bugs were relentless. Right before the story walk was supposed to start, only one family was there. These two little boys playing on the large rocks. They were so excited to be outside in the sun, climbing like little monkeys, impatient to start the walk.
Diane and I spent so much time making this a fun event. I had read the book to prepare, and knew to read quickly to move the group along, but not slow enough that it dragged. More than 30 adults and children showed up to the story walk, some students from the Hazen Summer School program came just to have some fun outside. We started the book, children running to the next post to look at the pictures. They were so excited to listen to this story, that no one noticed the bugs. After half an hour and one book later, we were at the end of the trail. A family visiting their grandparents from out of state had come on the storywalk. The grandfather complimented Diane and I, saying how much he enjoyed the event and that he was glad he could have a nice morning with his grandchildren. It absolutely made my day, even as Diane and I had to go back through the trail to pick up all the stakes.
I live right next to the field where the farmers’ markets are hosted. Growing up, I would spend the hot Friday afternoons eating yummy food with my parents as they bought groceries. My favorite thing was getting my face painted. A local bakery sells these over-sized cinnamon buns that my grandmother would always buy for us, and I remember getting a cinnamon bun painted on my cheek. When Diane mentioned that she was buying face paint for the farmers’ markets I was so excited! She bought some paints online, it came with a little booklet and face glitter. Listen, I’m not an artist and don’t claim to be. I do enjoy painting but I wouldn’t call myself an artist. I did a genuine job painting, and all of the kids had a great time.
One day Diane asked me to find some “space” arts and crafts to bring to the farmers’ market. Something with materials we already had, and would be simple for me to make. I found the perfect craft: little aliens using pompoms, plastic cups and bowls, and googly eyes! These little aliens were so fun and easy to make, I immediately made one to test out the process. The little alien floated around the library as a little friend! I even made him a book to read on his flight. I underestimated the amount of kids who wanted an alien buddy, and ended up running out of supplies right at the end to the farmers’ market. Every kid had an alien by the end of the night, and we used yarn we had been given for the knitting class.
This internship opened my eyes to both the magic I already knew, and some that I had yet to discover. I connected to more adults and kids in my community. I worked the front desk, shelved books, taught knitting, made aliens, put up posters, and sold raffle tickets all for my town’s little library. This building and the people it serves are more important to me now than ever before, learning more about myself and its culture than I ever thought I could. I grew as a person and community member as the summer went on.
The library is hosting a puppet show as I write this with a local comedy couple, two people I work for on their other projects. Knowing them, knowing other talented patrons and supporters, knowing friends and visitors to the library is comforting, a family that comes together for more than just books. The town I live in is a family, a quirky odd family. Without the library, there’s not much to do in Hardwick for children and families, adults and visitors. There are few places to go that will print things for you, free wifi and computer services. This internship taught me how to give back. For all the library does, there’s 20 people giving right back, either checking out books or coming to events, making donations or volunteering. Hardwick is full of giving, loving, exciting, creative, genuine people. I wouldn’t have known that without the Jeudevine Library.
Diane Grenkow is the Children’s Librarian at Jeudevine Memorial Library.
This summer the Tyler Public Library was fortunate to be awarded the Summer Learning Resources Grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and YALSA. These funds were used for three interactive programs for teens, including Cupcake Wars, Nerf War, and DJ Dance Party as well as one outreach program, the Nailed It Art Contest. By hosting these programs, our library aimed to engage the teen population in our area in general with a specific focus on reaching out to teens in foster care and teen group homes in our community.
In the past year, our library Youth Services department has been working to better reach out to teens in care as we know them to be an underserved group by our library. Knowing that this would be a challenge given possible logistical obstacles such as transporting teens to the library or encountering communication issues such as establishing the correct contacts to reach out to, we, nevertheless, pursued this goal to reach out to teens in care. It was important for our library to engage and meet the needs of these teens as members of our community and help fill any gap between the opportunities for recreation and education available to these teens during the summer compared to other teens in the community.
Library staff reached out to several agencies and known contacts involved with teen group homes or teens in foster care place settings. This led to a few back and forth conversations by email and phone and one steady dialog with a teen group home in our community: the Hearts-Way Youth Shelter. This facility is a group home for teens placed in care of the state. With room for up to 30 teen residents to live if needed, the home had 13 teens residing there at any given time this summer.
One goal set out upon receiving the funds for the Summer Learning Resources Grant was to successfully engage a foster group home in a program. Another goal was to provide teens in care with individual books to own and books for a group home mini library. Through these goals, we aimed to promote reading for pleasure and encourage learning and engagement in educational and recreational activities even when school was not in session.
We at the library were thrilled by the participation this summer from Hearts-Way teens. Nine teens attended the DJ Dance Party. Four attended the Cupcake Wars program, and 12 were present at the Nailed it Art Contest outreach program that was brought to the group home. At the outreach program, library staff presented the teens with individual books to keep and a variety of books and books series for a mini library that could be enjoyed by teens currently in care and in the future. It was great to be able to offer these teens opportunities to learn, have fun, and socialize with others their age.
The relationship that library staff established with Hearts-Way is one that our library plans to continue building as we move forward and use as a guide as we reach out to other agencies and teens in our area. By remaining patient, flexible, passionate, and sincere in our efforts, library staff is optimistic that we can continuing fostering positive relationships with teens in care in our community and the agencies representing them.
This summer’s support from the Summer Resources Grant helped our library take a good step forward, and library staff was happy to see these teens at the library outside the program times for teen events, checking out books and materials!
Amy Skipper is a Youth Services Librarian at Tyler Public Library.
This year I have been privileged with the task of spreading the word about the teen intern grant we received through YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy program. It has been a challenging but fun process. The director and I were very excited once we found out that we were chosen for the grant this year, and spread the wonderful news right away. We started the process by going to the local Jr./Sr. high school and homeschooling groups in our area. We then made sure to promote to the eligible teens through putting ads in our local newspapers hoping to reach them, their parents, or anyone that might know of someone trying to get the kind of experiences this program provides. Of course we couldn’t forget promoting on Facebook and good old fashioned flyers around town. I found the marketing part to be a fun way to meet new faces and promote our local library and all of the amazing things we can offer our community.
Once we got the word out it was a slow start to applications being filled out and handed in. Living in a rural area (most of our patrons have to drive a distance) proved to be the challenging part of this process because there were many teens who could not apply because they did not have any way to get to the library each week. Closer to the deadline however, the applications finally started rolling in. Once we received all of the applications it was my responsibility to contact them all to set up interview times. This is the first year that I was given this responsibility and found it to be intimidating at first, but once everyone was contacted and given an interview date I found it to be very fulfilling and exciting. It is such an awesome feeling to get when you know that these kids look to you for guidance and acceptance. The first big step most of these kids are taking to better their futures! And I got to be part of that! The library director and I began and finished the interview process as a team with many new things to take from it. We started out strong, but finished even stronger. The hardest part was calling the children that did not get chosen and telling them they were not picked this year. I was able to give them confidence by telling them their strengths, giving them interviewing tips, and encouraging them to apply again in the future.
Here are some words from our teen interns:
Working as an intern at my local library helped me shape my future career-building experience. Ever since I signed up for the job, I was excited about being able to work in a library and explore the place I admittedly hadn’t until now. I regret that decision, but now that I know what it’s like to be a part of it, I know I’ll be coming back even after summer ends.
My internship consisted mostly of helping around the library with anything I could pick up. I admit, I vastly
underestimated the amount of running around I’d be doing, and now understand just some of the hard work that goes into what makes our libraries worth visiting. Amongst the duties I helped out with over the summer, some of it consisted of helping sort and arrange books and movies, checking books in and out, posting for the library’s social media pages, and last but certainly not least, assisting in the annual Summer Quest program held for kids under the age of 13. I had been given the opportunity to help set up crafts, take pictures, and even hold my own short reading event near the end of the program, where I picked out two books to read and helped the kids create their own craft based on the books we read together.
I learned so many values that I know I would appreciate going into future career fields, such as how much I enjoy being able to sort books, managing social media pages, and having understandable and considerate coworkers. I’m incredibly grateful for the experience I’ve had here at my local library and I immensely recommend those who are even slightly interested in the library and its programs to sign up next year.
Chloe Buzard, 2019 RMAML Summer Intern
My name is Hannah Fritsch and this summer I had the privilege of working as a summer intern at the Brookville Library. I pretty much knew what I was going to be doing, but nothing can prepare you for doing something like doing it.
I would help set up the crafts, make sure we had supplies, line up snacks, and do pretty much whatever the staff had for me to do. At the beginning of the program we would read two or three books to the kids, sing songs, and tell them about the craft. Then we would head over to the craft table and start it! I even got to do my own program. The kids almost always loved the craft and got so into it. I loved seeing their faces light up when they were finished, and then running over to show their mom.
Overall, I had a great time! All the library staff were really helpful and nice, the kids were happy, and I really enjoyed working with them both. I would love to do something like this again in the future!
Hannah Fritsch, 2019 RMAML Summer Intern
I think that this has not only been a great opportunity for the two wonderful girls chosen to be our interns for the summer but for me as well. There have been so many things learned and gained just from these past few months specifically, that I find it hard to narrow down. I enjoyed seeing their creativity and working through their insecurities. We were able to show them all of the different aspects of being a librarian and I would have to say my favorite part was allowing them to prepare a children’s program and execute it as if they were the coordinator. It gave me the chance to see my job from another point a view as well as give them hands on experience to see if this is something they would like to continue in the future. These girls have grown in so many ways as people and I am very proud of them. Needless to say I am very thankful for this program and have found the benefits from this program to be very inspiring.
Amanda Mignogna is the Youth Services Coordinator for the Rebecca M. Arthurs Memorial Library.
When we were initially envisioning the internship that the YALSA grant allowed us, the goals were fairly straightforward. We hoped to support the implementation of our summer learning program while also providing helpful work practice for the teen interns. Although there were some challenges in the beginning, what resulted was a much richer experience as the interns made deeper connections to their community and helped foster a sense of place for the children and families participating in our programs.
After partnering with the local high school’s work-based learning program and outlining the internship tasks and desired outcomes for the teens, we assumed recruiting for a paid internship would be easy with plenty of candidates to choose from. Aside from announcements during homeroom period and flyers in the hallways, we also utilized our community wide listserv called Front Porch Forum and other social media platforms to advertise the internship beyond the school. We even created a Google Form so that teens could apply online if they preferred rather than submitting the paper application. Despite all of the promotion, as the deadline to apply approached we had only two interested candidates. In debriefing with the lead teacher for the work-based learning program, one idea for next year is to change the timing of our recruitment efforts to either earlier before summer camp deadlines or later in the school year when teens might be thinking more about their needs for employment over the summer.
Luckily, our only two candidates were enthusiastic and interested in reading and working with children, and both had prior volunteer experience to bring to the internship. As the summer progressed, we were grateful that we decided to hire both instead of just one intern as we proposed when applying for the grant. Not only were they able to work together and support each other as they created the programs they would lead, they each brought a complementary approach to the work. Sophia loved the planning aspect and could spend hours fine-tuning the details of a program while Elizabeth really shined as she connected with each child participating during the events. Having two interns also made scheduling easier, and for our largest events it was great to have more helping hands.
Having teen interns allowed us to provide more programming to our small rural community of roughly 6,000 particularly on the weekends, which in turn encouraged more participation than we have seen in past years. Over 300 youth and their grown-ups learned about alien earth, the myths in our stars, and how to survive on mars; they tested their Star Wars trivia knowledge, strolled through the solar system, partied to the moon and back and built life sized make believe rocket ships. Most importantly, they spent time together creating a sense of community and place that will carry into the new school year and beyond.
From the interns’ reflections, there were some unexpected positive outcomes for them as well. Although initially unsettling for her, Elizabeth really appreciated the freedom to create and lead a program from start to finish and noted it really helped her become more confident in her decisions and actions. Sophia realized that after spending the last few years going to a different school, she felt somewhat detached from what was going on in her town. Through many little moments during the internship, she was able to do something for and reconnect with her community. Given the success both from the increased summer learning we could provide and the personal growth we saw in the teens, we hope to find a way to continue the internship program for the foreseeable future.
Cory Stephenson is the Library Director at Moretown Memorial Library.
The Charlotte Mecklenburg library system in a large library system with many teen volunteers across twenty branches. Our focus for the grant this year was to choose a branch that does not have a high recruitment and retention rate for teen volunteers. Our Sugar Creek branch is in a low-income and widely served area in our county, and in the past, we have had teens not complete the summer volunteering program at this branch.
Our teen interns were integral to making some of our summer programs a success. Summer Interns assisted with our Summer Reading Kickoff at the beginning of summer. Each intern operated a STEAM station and helped the Children’s Department with various projects such as, prepping Summer Reading materials, Summer Reading registration, book displays, and programs. They maintained weekly shelf-reading assignments which included pulling duplicate copies from our fiction and nonfiction collection as well as processed Book Sale items, and they have assisted the Circulation Department by pulling morning holds and processing daily delivery.
The teen interns were asked which experience this summer was the most meaningful, and each of them gave a different view of why libraries are so important for teens. One of our interns, Treyson, also volunteered to be Clifford the Big Red Dog as part of the Summer Reading Kickoff. As Treyson was dressed as Clifford the Big, Red Dog in the summer sun, he said that even though it was a very hot costume, he “didn’t have to wear it” and that he “wanted to”, especially seeing how happy it made the children to see him.
Aleah shared about a moment when she was shelving in the children’s department, there was a child who told her she did not have anyone to play with. So, Aleah started coloring on the chalkboard with her, and she commented that she enjoyed spending time with the child, instead of leaving her alone. Aleah also stated that volunteering “gave her an excuse to read”. She never put books on hold before this summer, and now has a large stack. She also discovered ebooks and audiobooks and sometimes requests them at the same time!
Kaliyah has goals to become a graphic designer, and during this internship, she spent time with a staff person who is also an artist. The staff member gave her tips for her art and showed her how she can market her art as well. This internship gave her a connection she may have not made before.
Giving the teens several opportunities to work and collaborate with each other and library staff really benefited Sugar Creek. They were able to shine through their different personalities and have a fun experience, while learning how a library operates. This experience showed growth in each of the teens as well. By giving them a variety of tasks, they were able to find their niche, and they had a very positive impression of the library. By making the tasks fun and diverse, the teens committed 229 hours this summer, and there was no concern about retention.
Hayley Burson is a Teen Librarian at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.
The Ypsilanti District Library’s (YDL) 2019 Teen Summer Intern program was a great learning experience, not only for the teen interns, but also for the YDL staff! This was my first year managing teen interns at YDL and, as a result, I did not have my predecessor’s resources or anecdotes on past teen internships… I was starting from scratch for literally everything involving this process. I recruited for our internships mainly by word of mouth with our regular teen volunteers and patrons. I also added the application to our Teen Interest Page on the library’s website. All interested teens had to submit an application to me by June 1st in order to be considered. After distributing at least 12 applications in person, I only received five back, only three of which were totally complete. We had a lot of teens express interest after the deadline, which led into multiple conversations about prioritizing, managing deadlines and “there’s always next year”. Given the status of completed applications, my choices were pretty apparent and I hired the three teens who filled out their applications correctly and completely. I did have individual conversations with the other two teens about the incomplete status of their applications and encouraged them to try again next year, letting them know the reason as to why they were not selected. I felt like this aspect of the process was extremely important, as a lot of our teen patrons come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and are interested in working but lack work experience and 21st century career skills. This remained a constant theme throughout the summer with multiple conversations about anything from being late to cell phone use during shift times.
Once the interns were selected, we did a quick one-on-one session to go over expectations, tour the library spaces they would be working in and the supplies they were going to be using. They were also given their summer schedules based on their noted availability from their applications. In retrospect, as a time saver, I would plan for the future to have this be a more formal training that everyone attends at the same time. This would also ensure that the teens are all receiving the same information. I would also make sure to introduce the teens (maybe via email with their pictures, as well as walking them around for in-person introductions) to all the library staff, so they are familiar with the teen interns and understand why they are in the “staff-only” areas during the summer months. One of our teen interns was incredibly shy and laconic. This was challenging for some of our librarians and library staff who did not work directly with the teen interns. Some misconstrued her demeanor as rude or unengaged. She also felt shy because there were a few staff members who kept forgetting her name and repeatedly did not recognize her. The only time she conveyed this to me was in her final evaluation and review meeting. In retrospect, I also wish I had hosted a couple mid-summer check-in meetings with the teen interns, as I could have hopefully made her feel more comfortable sooner and also allowed for more opportunities for her to engage with the staff members who did not know her. Providing the teens with nametags and lanyards would also have been helpful, to create a more “official” vibe for them when working at the library in their roles as interns. Lastly, and most importantly, I think managing library staff’s expectations for teen volunteers would be essential. Providing them in advance with information on the teen brain and how to engage teens would have been helpful for both staff and the teen interns.
Our Summer Learning & Reading Challenge kicked off on June 15th, which was the first day our teen interns officially started working. Throughout the summer, our interns mostly helped with programs- prep, running the events, and cleanup. Overall, our internships were successful and it was a lot of fun getting to know the teens better and watching their confidence grow over the summer. The most heartwarming aspects were watching the interns learn how to create iPad book trailers and then engaging with youth patrons at our Library Lab STEM program, teaching the younger children how to create their own book trailers. It’s been a long, crazy-busy summer, but our teen interns were super helpful and it was so much fun getting to know them these past couple months! I am already looking forward to implementing some more positive changes and improvements to our internship program for the summer of 2020!
Kelly Scott is the Teen Librarian at Ypsilanti District Library.