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

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

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

Youth as Changemakers

Millennials have a high rate of volunteerism and are said to contribute to their communities in ways that help the greater good. That’s why the Dream It Do It (DIDI) project might be a great opportunity for libraries to connect with teens. Global Kids, an organization in New York City that works with youth in a variety of ways including exploring digital media, have a partnership with Youth Venture and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to work in Teen Second Life with teens to launch a venture and be changemakers in their communities. Continue reading

Q. What’s Better Than a Teen Council?

A. Several teen councils together.

On May 3rd, we held our first Multnomah County Library Teen Council Retreat. More than thirty teens attended, representing teen councils from several different branches. Our goals were simple: for the teens to meet, see that they’re part of something bigger than the council at their neighborhood library, and have fun.

Continue reading

Managing the Day Using Tech

Organizing work-related projects is something with which many YALSA blog readers might struggle. Time to plan and implement projects can be challenging. Sometimes it’s a struggle to get even one thing from a list of tasks accomplished, particularly when it’s important to interact with the teens as much as possible – and not hide away in an office making sure administrative tasks are taken care of.

There are several technologies that can help you get through your day. Three to get you started are:

Remember the Milk LogoRemember the Milk – is a web-based software that makes it really easy to keep track of tasks you need to accomplish. Sign-up for a free account and start creating lists of the things you need to do. You can integrate your lists into online calendars – such as Google Calendar – and access what you need to do on handheld devices, cell phones, etc. You can even setup Remember the Milk to send you reminders via Twitter. It’s also possible to collaborate with others using Remember the Milk. Maybe you and the teens in your TAG need to develop a list of tasks that need to be accomplished for an upcoming program. You could create that list together even when the teens aren’t in the library – just use Remember the Milk to make it happen.
Continue reading

What is Youth Participation?

Over the past several weeks I’ve been working on a few projects that have given me a chance to consider once again what we mean in libraries when we talk about youth participation. To be honest, over the past several years I’ve been pretty frustrated with teen youth participation in libraries. What I usually find is that most librarians focus on activities that are at the lowest levels of the ladder of particiption. In other words real teen participation is really pretty minimal.

Yesterday, I was able to hear part of a presentation from community agencies in New York City that manage to “do” real participation. (YMCA, Studio Museum Harlem, The Door) Unfortunately, I missed everything but the question and answer portion of the presentation, but what I did hear was truly inspiring, particularly from a youth participation perspective. Panelists mentioned the importance of:

  • Listening to what teens have to say
  • Not making assumptions
  • Not judging
  • Being who you really are – not trying to be cool when you are not
  • Talking with teens about sometimes difficult topics
  • Building relationships

This tied in with other thinking and work I’ve been doing. Recently, I’ve been reminded how important it is for librarians and teens to focus on project-based youth participation. Many teen librarians talk to me about how hard it is to keep teens coming to TAB/TAG meetings and how much work it takes on the librarians part to keep a TAB/TAG going. But, think about this. If the participation is project-based:

  • Each project has a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Different teens in the community work on different projects.
  • More teens will want to participate and be motivated because they are involved in a specific project that is of interest to them.
  • You have the chance of meeting the needs and bringing in more teens because of the short-term nature of the participation. (It’s not a life-time committment.

It’s likely that a higher level of participation is also possible when it comes to project-based youth participation. Teens have more opportunity to come up with projects that are meaningful to them, the library, and community. Some examples of project-based participation include:

  • Space planning – a group of teens who are interested in figuring how to work with the library’s space get together and plan and implement a rearrangement or renovation of the space.
  • Gaming – teens who are interested in gaming get together to talk about how to bring gaming into the library. They talk about policies, hardware and software, and plan programs.
  • Collection building – teens who are interested in different parts of the library collection get together to help determine what to add, and weed. A group of music loving teens might work on the music collection. A group of manga loving teens might work on the manga collection. Etc.

None of these projects has to be long-term. The group might get together for several weeks, disband, and then reconstitute themselves in some way at a later date. The group only lasts as long as the project on which they are working.

And, of course, don’t forget that teens involved in a particular project could meet virtually just as well as f2f.

It would be great to learn about librarians who are using a project-based approach to youth participation already. Anyone?

Melissa T. Jenvey, TAGS Committee Chair

Well the dog days of summer are not far off and Summer Reading has been in full swing but what about TAGs? Here at Teen Central we are taking the summer to regroup and come up with a plan for next year talking about projects and programs that our TAG will be heading up. The summer can go either way…the TAG can be up and running strong or sleeping late and days at the pool can seem much more attractive to TAG members.

What are some of the activities that you use to keep you TAG involved during the summer? What are some of the strategies that people have found worked best when your TAG started to drag? Does anyone have a virtual TAG during the summer?

Recruitment by Invitation

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

This is the way to go if you want to limit the number of teens you have on your Teen Advisory Board. Some areas to recruit from are:
• Library teen volunteers
• Recommendations from School Media Specialists

• Recommendations from library staff
• Recommendations from teachers
• Other teen leadership groups in your area
• Boy & Girl Scout Leaders
• Boys & Girls Club counselors

You could use an application process and use the applications to then interview the teens and make your choices from there. This could be a very time consuming process, but it will usually weed out the teens that are not really interested in being on the board.

Sample applications:

Gwinnett County Public Library Teen Scene

Vancouver Public Library

Halton Hills Public Library Teen Advisory Group

Open Recruitment

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

How do you recruit? Here you will use your standard forms of publicity: word of mouth, brochures, posters, flyers, web and maybe applications. When we started our TAB groups at our branch libraries, we used an application form. This allowed us to create a database of interested teens, and each teen then got an invitation from the library for the first TAB meeting at the branch of their choice.

If you are relying on posters and flyers, you will want to place these items in more places than just the library. Where to place the flyers and posters:
• local hangouts
• coffee houses
• parks

• schools
• Boys & Girls clubs
• Library (of course)

Make them eye-catching with enough information to catch their interest.

If you have teens who are already volunteering in the library, they are some of the first you should try to recruit. They already have an interest in the library or they wouldn’t be there volunteering. Ask they to help recruit their friends and to put up posters and flyers to the places where teens hang out.

Next posting – Recruitment by Invitation