When analyzing the success and challenges of the recent Teen Read Week, we look to the survey results to offer insight. It may come as no surprise that the “Read for the Fun of It” theme remains relevant to the needs of teens, seen in the 78.61% of respondents who utilized the multicultural theme and the 82.08% who participated in the initiative in order for teens to “develop an appreciation for reading.” Other respondents shared anecdotes of their libraries utilizing an alternative theme selected by teen patrons, which highlights the importance of reading and of creating flexible participation in teen interest driven environments.
Additionally, the survey helps the committee prioritize their work for the following year and to address resource gaps voiced by survey respondents. The TRW committee creates both free and inexpensive resources and it can be difficult to assess their importance, such as the TRW Pinterest board – a board with 1.1k followers geared towards programming and display ideas and related infographics. Some of these pins receive a high engagement rate of repinning and implementation (Pinterest’s “tried it” option). However, it is not known if the board is useful to libraries or the vast Pinterest audience. When asked to select their top three YALSA TRW resources, 23.70% survey respondents selected Pinterest as the fourth most useful resource, placing its importance behind the downloadable logo (63.58%), TRW website (61.27%) and themed products (27.17%). This response supports the significance and continued existence of a yearly TRW related Pinterest board.
Often the loudest and more numerous thread found throughout several different comment sections of the survey was the need for more programming resources: more diverse, passive and school focused programming. Yet other respondents shared their successfully themed TRW programs, such as daily trivia contests in both English and Spanish, students writing TRW articles for the school’s online newspaper and school librarians involving coaches and other educators to lead discussions about reading. In addition to offering programming ideas on the TRW Pinterest board, the TRW committee also submits vetted and tried programs to the YALSAblog and the yearly updated Teen Read Week manual. Despite these efforts, there remains a disconnect between the individuals who have great programs, like the ones previously mentioned, and those who need to hear and be inspired by them.
Interestingly, only 45.66% of TRW survey respondents were YALSA members, which further supports the need for you to share your successful, rich and Futures aligned programs through YALSA’s Teen Programming HQ site. We also need to demonstrate on the HQ site how easy program evaluation can be to implement and showcase its importance. The TRW survey revealed that the majority 62.43% did not use any form of evaluation. Sharing our experiences in measuring success may be as simple as describing the 80 teen students who downloaded the Overdrive app as one such respondent described. Furthermore, as 1.16% of survey participants heard about TRW through the YALSA blog, it is now your responsibility, if you’ve read this far, to reach out to your peers and support these findings.
Amanda Barnhart is a Teen Librarian for the Kansas City Public Library Trails West branch and the current YALSA Teen Read Week chair.