Teen Spaces: Mark Them With Your Teens’ Scents

I know that there are many articles, workshops, and blog entries circulating on teen spaces.Most of these revolve around the physical trappings of the area:what furniture did we buy, how did we find the space, what paint colors did we use, etc. Most prominently, they state how they got the money for this project. Who gave it, and how did we talk them into it? Having a teen space is seen as a vital part of serving teens. But where does that leave libraries that, for whatever reason, can’t get the funding?Or what if, no matter how supportive your administration is, they can’t enlarge your teen space any more than it is?

I am of the opinion that even if funding can’t be acquired, we can do simple, cost-effective things to make the teens feel at home in whatever space we have. Here’s a few things my library has done in the past few months. Continue reading

Promoting Teen Read Week through Video

One of the highlights of working in the YALSA office is I get to see all of the amazing ways people celebrate and promote Teen Read Week. One popular promotional tool I’ve seen this year is the Teen Read Week trailer. Here are two great examples: one featuring teens at the Kendall Young Library in Webster City, Iowa (thanks to librarian Bonnie Korslund for sharing!), and the other from the Readergirlz, for their Night Bites chat series, in which they’re sponsoring live chats with YA authors each night of Teen Read Week.

If you’re interested in creating your own trailer, go for it! Just make sure to tag it “yalsa” and “trw08” when you put it up on YouTube.

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Fair Division

It seems like a little thing, but little things can still make a big difference.

Today, at my library’s weekly Game On!, an open video gaming event, we figured out how to divide the snacks so no one feels shortchanged.

Game On! started with a PlayStation 2 and a small, dedicated group of teens. It has since morphed into a multi-console gaming extravaganza. Every Thursday, we have an Xbox 360, a PlayStation 3, and a Wii, running respectively on two tvs and a projector. Not to mention the Rock Band drum kit, batteries for Wii-motes, a notebook full of cheat codes, Game Cube controllers that one of our regulars is kind enough to bring from home, and 20-30 teens attending each week. Continue reading

Who is the Customer?

A few weeks ago I had the chance to participate in a small tech summit, at which a variety of types of librarians discussed different ways technology is being used in libraries, library schools, and actually, in life.’  As the Swiss Army Librarian noted in his post, at the event we didn’t just talk about technology. The group also talked about a variety of library topics, including customer service and how librarians are using the phrase customer service as a way to justify practices that aren’t actually very customer friendly at all.’  Continue reading

Fostering Youth Advocacy: How Libraries Can Help

While attending the ALA conference I had the wonderful opportunity of hearing first-hand the successes of a very active teen advisory group located at the Oakland Public Library. Active teen leaders shared stories about reaching out into the community to represent the library to their peers and elders. Here is a summary of what teens at Oakland Public Library are doing to connect the community with library resources:

  • Teens participate in library legislative day by traveling to the state capital and meeting with senators to advocate for libraries.
  • They represent the library and youth library council at public speaking and community events.
  • Teens present concerns and issues to the library board.
  • The teen panelists explained how being YLC members has provided them with opportunities to develop skills in public speaking, organization, and reaching out to others. Continue reading

President’s Program: The Teen Third Space

I’ve been waiting a few days to write about the Teen Third Space because I’ve been allowing it to sink in.

I work in one of the oldest branches of my system. The teen space has one long table dominated by laptop users. Luckily we have a significant chunk of shelving, but the books aren’t new and shiny. In fact, everything is old, uncomfortable, and stained. The only thing that makes the teen area a teen area is the fact that it says “Teen” on the wall. Cuz there aren’t any teens sitting there. They’ll go anywhere else in the library to hang out, but do not want to be in the teen space at all. As the incoming teen librarian at this branch it is *the* major thing I need to fix.

So the President’s Program got me at just the right time. Titled “The Teen Third Space,” the session covered physical space, seating selection, and the electronic third space. Continue reading

Starting From Scratch (Sort Of)

I’ve officially started my new job, heading up a brand-new teen department. While the children’s department has been serving teens here for a while now, this is the first time that my library has had a separate teen librarian with a separate budget and all that. So, I’m starting from the beginning, pretty much. To make things a bit more complicated, we’re moving into a new library in January. Right now, we don’t have a real space for teens, but we will in the new building.

There’s a lot to think about (hello, understatement). I’ve got my budget, so now I have to figure out how to spend it. The teen collection here is pretty good — but there are a lot of aging titles that need to be evaluated (some of them are still circulating like crazy), and there are some worn copies that need to be replaced. We also have a sizeable graphic novel collection (mostly manga) that I am totally unfamiliar with. The kids at my last library weren’t asking graphic novels and I never got around to educating myself.

And then there’s the non-book stuff. Continue reading

Poetry Programming – How and Why

So, you’re working hard to connect teens with poetry. You’ve tried the Dickens and the Frost and the Angelou and the entire 811 section. The teens are sitting there looking at you bored out of their mind.

Well, have you tried the Beat poets? They’re all about rebellion and individualism, two themes towards which teens will feel a natural affinity. Working with Urban Word NYC and the Precision Poetry Drill Team, The New York Public Library sponsored “Bring the Beat back” at the Bronx Library Center. Performing works from such an influential movement in literature, the members of the Precision Poetry Drill Team inspired several teens to get up and present their own creations at the end of the session. One of the most memorable moments was their adaptation of Alan Ginsberg’s famous “Howl,” which the group decided to perform on top of one of the tables in the Teen Center. If you check out the video link, you can see the opening lines from “Howl” on the scrolling marquee as well. Check out that video (and more):

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Living Library

This article in the Seattle Times, Check out S for Stereotypes at the Living , was sent to me over email today. (Thanks Ann!). People that are typically targeted for hatred or are thought of as a specific stereotype, such as someone who is transgendered or an immigrant, can be “borrowed” so the borrower can ask any questions she might have. According to the article, the program which is currently available in London is coming to the Unite States soon, Fort Wayne, IN will be one of the first locations for Living Library in the U.S.

Do you think this same concept would work for teens? Another program with a similar framework, Mix It Up at lunch day, challenges teens to push a social boundary such as sitting with someone that haven’t sat with at lunch before. Many of us have programs that bring teens together in ways that we might not have anticipated. The organizer’s guide for the Living Library is available.

Share your thoughts.

Connecting with Teens

When I started as a librarian, I wanted to help all libraries reach out to teens in meaningful ways. I’ve been at my job for a little over a year now, and while I still have a long way to go, I’m proud of some of the things I’ve done this past year to help the teens own teen services at my branch.

Working with teens takes trust, a caring heart and a willingness to listen to new things. While I would love to have a huge teen space in every branch with daily programs and amazing collections, I’ve found that teen services is more about relationships than the size of your collection, the amount of your programs, or even the amount of space dedicated to teens at your library. Continue reading