The More Things Change…

A few hours ago I received an email from a library school student that included the following:

I’m on the board of our small public library – we were doing a goal setting exercise – I brought up enticing more teenagers to use this library (they don’t). I could not believe the negative reaction that I got – It was a why do we need that generation here kind of reaction.”

Every time I hear a story like this I feel so sad. Every day I am reminded of the great progress we’ve made in guaranteeing that teens are supported in their libraries. But, then again, at least once a week I’m reminded of how far we have to go.

I ask myself, how does a community get to the point where they think that it’s OK to say no to teens in the library? I wonder, how did some libraries get to the point where they think if they say no to teens today when those same teens become adults they will come back to the library? (By the way, those teens should never return to any library that treats them that way.)

If you encounter a library, librarian, or community member who thinks it’s OK to say no to teens, what can you say to turn things around? Will it work to:

  • Explain that the teen is a future taxpayer and that it’s important to serve the teen today so they will vote for your budget tomorrow?
  • Talk about the developmental assets and the role libraries play in helping teens grow-up successfully?
  • Focus on the library as a place where teens can learn how to use technology tools in positive ways so they know how to be smart and safe while online?
  • Reflect on the ways in which libraries can serve teens through youth participation programs?

These are of course just a few of the ways to help circumvent the negative attitudes that sometimes still exist when it comes to teen services in libraries. If you have other ideas or best practice suggestions, submit a comment for this post.

YALSA Podcast #21 – Teen Space

In this podcast Linda Braun talks with Kim Bolan about library spaces for teens. The conversation includes discussion of:

  • Technology in teen space
  • Selling fellow staff and administration on the importance of teen space
  • Current trends in teen space
  • Working with teens in creating library teen spaces

You can learn more about Kim and teen spaces on her blog – The Indie Librarian.

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Friday at the Library

In my library today:

*teens sewing a curtain on the sewing machine that will be used to block out the sun for movies shown in front of the floor to ceiling windows

*teens cutting out butcher paper to cover a refrigerator box for a booth we’re making (gotta pick up the beaded curtain this weekend)

*teens adding the first colors of paint on the courtyard mural outside to represent stories and plays

*teens painting chairs for a civil rights project in the courtyard

*popcorn on the carpet from the moviegoers
*laughter
*friendship bracelets in the making
*putting books on hold
*”Where is the room where you make movies?”
*families on the computers together on the first floor

Typical Friday? Yes. In many ways. It will be two weeks tomorrow since Mr. Joe Martin passed away. He was a generous donor to this library and so much to the community. If I took a snapshot today (digital camera is at home), he would’ve loved this. The spirit of the imagination was so vivid today.