Have you ever noticed the number of posts on Twitter, or Facebook, or blogs that pose the question, Do teens….? This could be: Do teens use Twitter, Do teens still use Facebook, Do teens use Tumblr, Do teens read horror, Do teens eat peanut butter? These questions have started to annoy me because while I value connecting to a professional learning network as much as the next library staff member serving teens (I really do), I think that instead of asking everyone in the world about teens generally, we should connect directly with teens in our own communities and ask them how they are spending their time, what technology they use, what they like to read, and so on. Sure, the teen library staff member in the next town over, or across the country, might have some insight on what teens like, dislike, and how they spend their time But, she probably does not know the specifics of your community that can make something the most or least popular thing around for the teens that you work with.
I understand that if we glom all teens into a group that it makes understanding them and providing services easier. And, I also understand that sometimes generalizations work. It’s also true that research that focuses on teens as a group, such as that just published by the Pew Internet & American Life Project on Teens, Social Media and Privacy can be really useful and help to set a foundation for the work done with the age group in libraries. But, what I worry about is that some library staff working with teens use the generalizations and what works in one community as the foundation for what they do for/with teens in their own community without ever talking with teens in their locale directly. And, as a result, miss opportunities for creating services that are personalized and customized and just right for that specific community’s teens.
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.
“The greatest service which can be rendered to any country is to add a useful plant to its culture…” –Thomas Jefferson; Memorandum of Services to My Country, after 2 September 1800
You may have heard a lot of talk lately about seed libraries. In February, NPR ran a story entitled “How to Save a Public Library: Make it a Seed Bank.” If we put aside the argument over whether or not public libraries need to be saved, this story actually highlighted an interesting movement that has been sweeping across the country and libraries are leading the way.
A seed lending library works on the simple principle that you can ‘lend’ out seeds to be grown by patrons who will then harvest new seeds and return them to the seed library to be lent out again.
Hosting a seed library can help you connect, create, and collaborate with your community, and especially with your teens.