Recruiting for your Teen Advisory Board/Group

Posted by Kendra Skellen TAGS Committee member, Gwinnett County Public Library

Recruiting for your Teen Advisory Board/Group
Recruiting teens to be a part of your Teen Advisory Board (Group) can be one of the most maddening yet worthwhile tasks you will have in creating or maintaining a TAB. Being teens it will be a constantly changing group. The teens will become interested in other activities or, gasp, grow older over the years and outgrow the group. However, with good recruitment tools in place you will never lack for those new teens to replace those you have lost.

Open to all or by Invitation

You need to decide what is best for your library. Open recruitment to all interested teens will give you a group with a wide range of interests. It can also give you more teens than you may want in your group. Membership by invitation will be a lot more work, but will limit the number of teens you have to work with. It may also give you a group of teens who are more responsible for they are teens who have been recommended to you by your peers in the community.

Your choice of open recruitment or recruitment by invitation may be determined by what your plans are for the TAG. Will the group be advising you in materials selection? Will they be planning and presenting programs in the library? Will the group be more involved with getting teens into the library for fun activities? What will be their purpose?

Once you have determined the purpose of you TAG, you can then make a determination of how you would like to recruit the members.

Next installment: Open Recruitment

My Space Security Through Staff and Advertising

Posted by Linda W. Braun

Last week My Space announced that beginning May 1 they will have a Security Officer on staff. The job was given to Hemanshu Nigam – formerly of Microsoft and the U.S. Justice Department.

This hiring coincides with an advertising campaign My Space is initiating along with The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and others, to educate about the possible dangers of online community.

Ever since I heard about the hiring of a security officer at My Space I’ve been thinking about the balance adults need to help teenagers reach. I’m talking about the balance between the ability to feel empowered to make choices (and sometimes bad choices) and the need to keep teenagers safe from the dangers the online world potentially brings.

I’m not sure a security officer and public service announcements is the way to go in order to strike this balance. It’s very similar to tactics used for other areas in which teens must make decisions that relate to their health and safety – drugs and cigarettes come to mind. Do statistics show that the PSAs teens see and hear help them to make smart decisions in these areas?

Of course the people teens trust in their lives really have the key to helping make good decisions. These include:

  • Trusted librarians who listen to what teens have to say about their use of the technology before making judgments.
  • Trusted librarians that are willing to test out the technology before jumping to conclusions.
  • Trusted librarians who advocate for teens and their use of technology.
  • Trusted librarians who think about how technology supports teen developmental assets and see technology use as more than passive entertainment.

These librarians perhaps help teens to make good choices better than a security officer or PSAs ever can.

Before the ad campaign and the security officer go to work I hope the people involved don’t make assumptions about teens.

  • They need to know that teens have the ability to reason and make good decisions.
  • They need to know that teens don’t automatically go to the dark side just because they are teens.
  • They need to know that teens often know the rules of Internet safety and know how far they can go in order to remain safe.

A picture of a teen on My Space does not automatically mean that the teen who posted the image is going to decide to rendezvous with the next anonymous stranger she meets at the site.

If you haven’t heard about My Space enough at this point – it sure is in the news a lot these days. There was an interesting article in yesterday’s New York Times about how the online community is going to be connecting with and displaying advertising on the site.

Second Life Library 2.0

Alliance Library System has started a Second Life project. They have created a library within the game, that people can use as meeting place.

Second Life Library 2.0

As part of the library they are going to offer different programs such as a Book Discussion group on Tuesday nights, and live events. This morning they had their first Library program hosted by the Johnson County Library KS as part of the Librarian’s Continuing Education Seminar Series. They featured David King who spoke about how IT and librarians can talk each others language. For more information on upcoming events visit the official blog

Lori Bell

Lori Bell originally had the idea, and now a group has began to help her. For more information about participating with the library you can join thier Google Group

Second Life Library 2.0

I encourage everyone to take a risk and try something new like Lori, together we can make great ideas into reality. I think that is what organizations are for.

The images are from the Second Life Flicker Group. The first one is the library, and the second is the avatar for Lori. I included the last picture (me with a box on my head) because it is an example of me looking completely unprofessional, when I did not know how to open a box. Do not let the technology intimidate you. So what does it matter that I got a box on my head. I took it off and someone helped me open it. That is what people do, and as librarians, I think we need to remember that it is all right to look dumb sometimes. Those moments teach us what we need to know.

posted by Jami Schwarzwalder aka Eiseldora Reisman

More reasons for TAGS

Judy Macaluso TAGS Committee Member Ocean County Library

Today’s Millenial Generation wants to give back to their community and to become involved in things that affect them. Our library has been very successful by our TAGS being a community service opportunity and for teens to earn volunteer hours for their participation. And when that concept is carried forward into meetings where they learn that their ideas count and programs they want can and will happen and they are making a difference – it’s a win-win for sure. It is good to keep in mind that teens influence not only their peers, but their parents and adults as well. A meaningful experience for them being a library TAG member can have an unforeseen ripple effect. Positive news about the library, it’s activities and staff gets communicated to others. An unorthodox, but effective public relations strategy for sure! What are your thoughts about TAGS being a community service opportunity?

Why Teen Advisory Groups in Libraries?”

Judy Macaluso TAGS Committee Member Ocean County Library

Reason #1:Simply said working WITH teens is working FOR teens in the most developmentally appropriate and effective way. Teens on their way to adulthood are getting into the game of life – voicing an opinion, formulating an idea, making a plan, taking action, dealing with success and failure and making a difference. Teens want to do – not be done to. That is youth participation and that is what YALSA and Teen Librarians espouse.

Reason #2: Libraries are truly part of their community’s youth development support system. TAG’s are like Scouts, 4-H, Clubs, etc. By practicing youth participation with TAG’s libraries make young lives better – and that’s the whole point – isn’t it? Libraries that make lives better make a community better.

Reason #3: Rapidly changing fads, trends and interests – libraries have to know or they fall flat on their face. Teen Librarians need to be in touch with the unique teens in their unique community with their unique interests. Why have collections, programs and services that do not meet needs. Bottom Line: Libraries need to provide value and meaning by being in touch with the community we serve.

Reading Patrick Jones’s New Directions in Library Services to Young Adults is a great inspiration as well as Diane Tuccillo’s VOYA Guide – Library Teen Advisory Boards. And a valuable websites is http://www.jervislibrary.org/yaweb/TAGs.html

What would reason #4 be from your point of view?

PreConference Update

Registrations are still being accepted for the YALSA Preconference, Reading With Your Ears.

During the Preconference, Listening Library/Books on Tape is holding an exciting contest.Attendees are invited to an open audition (held during the preconference break times) that will include reading and recording a small sample. The winning librarian and a guest will be flown to New York City to attend a recording session of a YA novel AND record a literacy message to be used on a future audiobook.

Don’t miss this chance for fame! Attend the Reading with your Ears preconference!

YALSA is 50 in 2007

Posted by Mary Arnold, yalsa50 committee co-chair

You can never have too much birthday, so be sure to stop by the YALSA booth at annual conference in New Orleans June 22-28! The 50th birthday celebration group, YALSA Board and our great YALSA staff will kick-start the party early with 50th anniversary stickers for your conference badge to show all our colleagues that YALSA has been helping librarians serve teen customers well for a long time!

We are a creative bunch, so please post ideas for ways YALSA can get the word out — 50 and still young (adult) at heart! YALSA plans to celebrate it’s 50th Anniversary throughout 2007.

Working with TAGS and Staff to De-stress

Posted by Paula Brehm-Heeger, TAGS committee:

When there is tension in the Library, everyone feels it. Many libraries report that it starts around 2:30, when the after school crowd begins to trickle into the building. Often unhappy staff members are the most obviously stressed, but teens who feel unwelcome and unfairly targeted for constant correction of their behavior feel stress, too.

Lowering the tension level is tough to do once a pattern has been established, right? Sometimes words – no matter how calmly delivered to frustrated staff or teens that are not in the habit of trusting the library “really wants you here” – just don’t seem to do the trick.

Quality training opportunities– like those offered by SUS trainers – are extremely valuable. Take a look around your community, too. Are there staff training possibilities available from experts outside the Library profession?

Recently, I heard a community health educator specializing in adolescent medicine discuss the importance of bringing tense people out of the “red zone” – both mentally and physically – in order to effectively address challenging behaviors (“challenging behavior” of both teens and staff). This community health educator did a one hour stress management session with my TAG focused on physical and mental tools for simply calming yourself down. They loved it. Many have reported using these methods at school or when they are having difficult interactions with parents or teachers.

Why not host this kind of session for staff, too? It can be quick, easy and incorporated into a general staff meeting. Staff members may realize that, once they start reflecting on daily stress, it is not only (or perhaps predominately) teens that cause them to feel tension.

Now that my TAG has had some stress management education, they are very interested in talking more at our meetings about their ideas for de-stressing staff/teen interactions in the Library, too!

Teen Behavior and Participation in Libraries

LJ Opinion Polls
I am a little delayed reporting on this as I struggle to be diplomatic, but I’m wondering… what kind of message does it send to our profession when Library Journal (Reed Business), publishes an opinion poll focusing on negative teen behavior in libraries?

Online polls about library issues have come under scrutiny before. In February 2005, American Libraries, in a poll via its January 25 issue of AL Direct, “Should ALA Council pass a resolution condemning the Cuban government for its imprisonment of dissident ‘independent librarians?'” was viewed as an “[Intervention] in the business of the Association.”

The great thing about LJ and AL polls is that they do become an opportunity for discussion. A brief discussion on the YALSA-BK listservs had librarians divided on the fairness of the poll. “Our big problems aren’t the teens, it is adults that give us behavior problems at times,” wrote one YA librarian. “I don’t have adults who poke holes in the furniture, shout, shove, and throw things across the room,” contradicted another, generating a lively conversation about patron behavior and serving the underserved.

The poll, although vague, does reflect the negative view of teens held by many adults, patrons AND librarians. The lack of support from administration for librarians working with teens, coupled with the behavior issues and poor attitude from fellow staff, seems to result in burnout. One librarian suggested that “Teen Librarians and Burnout” would be a great research project. There’s money available for research in the field, and I’d say this qualifies as a “Professional Problem,” which is a criteria for the the
Frances Henne / YALSA / VOYA Research Grant
. For more details, please visit the YALSA handbook to see YALSA’s Research Agenda, or consider applying for the Henne. Perhaps a YALSA member needs to create their own poll about behavior of all kinds, from patrons of all ages, and how it is dealt with and perceived by all staff.

A Quick Plug for SUS Trainers
Don’t forget, sometimes when you are making the case for teen services (or just arguing that they are valid and valuable patrons), it helps for the staff to hear it from someone else, even after all you’ve done to become the teen expert in your community. Ask someone at another branch, from another town, or even an SUS trainer to deliver a workshop on specific aspects of teen services. From the YALSA web site: “The subjects … include adolescent development, reading interests, behavioral problems, youth participation, facilities, and computer services for teens. The trainers have been trained to work with adult learners and are experts in the specialized field of young adult services.”

This week’s poll, perhaps in an effort to back peddle, focuses on teen participation, a core of library service to young adults. Teen participation is a terrific solution to teen behavioral issues: give them the opportunity to participate and it allows for relationship building, community building, and a sense of ownership that results in fewer behavior problems. As of noon today, 29.73% of librarians do have Teen Advisory Boards, 35.14% get teen feedback on ideas, and 35.14% do neither. The questions are clumsy – presumably, the purpose OF a Teen Advisory Board is to solicit teen feedback – why ask their opinion if you are not going to follow through?

Perhaps that’s a topic for another post.

~posted by Beth Gallaway