From improving teen summer reading volunteer training to increasing visibility and enhancing teen programs to raising funds, the YALSA/Dollar General Summer Teen Intern Grant made a big impact this summer at Montclair Community Library, one of Prince William Public Library System’s 11 branches located just 30 miles outside of Washington, DC.
Our grant had three components: develop an interactive training element for teen summer reading volunteers, plan and execute a fundraiser for Montclair Community Library, and produce a teen outreach video. Rob Solka, Librarian I and Teen Volunteer Coordinator, and I conducted 29 interviews to choose the two teens that would be awarded $500 each for 50 hours’ work.
First, the teens developed a popular scavenger hunt to highlight the summer reading program and Montclair Community Library. They also created a role-playing component to help teens handle situations that might happen during their shifts. “The surveys after the training said the scavenger hunt was the best part because it was so much fun,” Solka said. “We will definitely do it again next year.”
Selected teens Katelynn L. and Sally D. also led teens on other projects. This provided individual professional development for them and also helped build the Montclair teen program since the projects were fun and memorable for teens participating.
“We got our own project and got to be creative about it,” Sally said in describing the best part of participating in the grant. She was in charge of leading the outreach video that featured other teens. She added, “I liked working with everyone. You guys were really nice.”
Sally offered a unique perspective: she had never been to the library before being selected as one of the two interns. She was unaware of all the great resources that the library makes available to the public, but promotional efforts for the grant opportunity paid off. “I learned about what the library has to offer for sure. OverDrive, hoopla digital. I didn’t even know the Digital Media Lab existed,” she said.
Sally said she heard about the grant three different times before she decided to apply. “First, my English teacher told me. Then my school librarian told me. After that, I heard it on the school morning announcements,” Sally said. The Prince William Public Library System regularly coordinates and collaborates with Prince William County Public Schools and other schools in the community.
Katelynn, an active Montclair teen volunteer, was also selected and led a fundraiser selling doughnuts that raised $174.50. “The fundraiser was my favorite because of the experience it gave me. I’ll be able to use the skills I gained here in the future,” Katelynn said. She said she developed time management, leadership, and sales skills. “I always felt that I worked better alone. This helped with group project skills. I think it strengthened those.”
Solka, Katelynn, and I will be joining Tiffany Duck from Suffolk Public Library, the other library in Virginia to receive the YALSA Teen Intern Grant, to present “YALSA Teen Intern Grants: A Tale of Two Libraries” at the Virginia Library Association this October.
“I’m honored to have been given this position. I really enjoyed it,” Katelynn said.
Robin Sofge is the Youth Services Supervisor at Montclair Community Library.