Bring together a group of energizing professionals from different backgrounds who have devoted their talents to serving teens and prepare to be inspired. The Summit on Teens & Libraries was a part of YALSA’s National Forum on Libraries & Teens funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and these two days of creative thinking about missions, opportunities, aspirations and connections was simply dazzling. After a series of speakers and small group discussions, I took away a powerful word: relationships. So often we go about our daily routine, and we take time to think of the best library programming or instructional ideas or focus on our technology and book offerings. Those things are key to our success of course, but none of that matters if teens don’t feel connected.
A teen panel took questions from YALSA President Jack Martin, and in our discussions we kept referring to what they said brought them to the library and what they wanted from their experience. It was clear that connecting with interests, friends, and the library staff kept them coming back. As studies show and our speakers stated throughout, learning driven by teens and their interests is most meaningful. Two powerful statements from the panel that resonate with me are “The library gave me a community” and “I leave with new ideas.” What could possibly be better than that?