Making Traditional Library Services Teen Friendly
March 24, 2006
Dawn Bussey, Director River Forest (Ill.) Public Library.
Mary K. Chelton, Queens College, Flushing N.Y. VOYA,
Angela Pfell Henderson District (Nev.) Public Libraries Virtual Reference Librarian with tutor.com.
Aaron Schmidt, Reference Librarian at Thomas Ford Memorial Library Western Springs IL
One hand out of six slides about River Forest Public Library
Started with programs but realized that is not enough
Teens have a different way to approaching information
They like to receive library services in different ways than in the past
We may have some opposition along the way.
We need to invite teens in and provide a place where they can stay.
Teen and Info Seeking Behavior
“What’s more to say than get more technology, get more patron support, get more…”
YALSA, Smart Girl, and OCLC released research that says that teens prefer a search engine to the library.
Academics are all classroom centered and school centered. Therefore, Public Libraries have not received much about public libraries
Found an average of nine errors per teen when conducting a search
This generation does not understand intellectual freedom
They need to know the subject they are looking for, and librarians need to help show them.
They cannot search if they do not want they are looking for
They do not know how to assess what they need to know
Kids want more than facts about drugs, and sex,
They want contextual information, and do not trust people who did not have experience.
That is somewhat scary.
Many librarians have ignored that many students come in to get information for a teacher. (Melissa Gross) Therefore, we have to stop insisting they be happy about it
We need to treat them for who they are, not whom we think they are.
Why do we have this ideal user in our head that kids cannot live up to?
This person does not exist,
Pay attention to space. They need space for interaction. (Why can’t we take a percentage of the adult/children lounge and let the teens re create it as our own)
Friendship is a large portion of being a teen, and we must accommodate.
“I think they use it as a place to just meet and talk. I think they use it as an informal meeting place.” (THIS IS A GREAT THING)
We should look at teenagers as an opportunity.
All the research shows that the deficient is not with the teens but with us as librarians
You already have a space for teens: your website
18% of the virtual reference users were teenagers
We are interacting with teens
If you have ever done virtual reference you know, it is like the first time they walk in the door.
They will test you. It is their job.
Teens are nocturnal so at 10 at night without the library open where are they going to go?
They are more comfortable online.
The Virtual Reference will serve everyone, not just teens
Librarians will need to know how to interact with teens online.
They need to know the language to use, that may be informal, but that is ok
31% of teens look for help information online
We seem to be afraid to do something because we are afraid of what might happen.
If you are not seeing 31% of teenagers walking through your door you have to figure out how to reach them.
This generation is huge, bigger than the boomer generation.
We cannot risk not meeting them.
It will allow you talk one on one with teenagers.
You can work through all the roadblocks
It will extended your services longer to when they need it
This is part of what Teenagers do.
Teens set the pace, Phone companies, search engines…
Think about how portable the library would be if they can talk to a librarian on PDAs, Cell Phone. All from a website.
Worked with more teenagers being online than in her physical library
It is not easier it is not harder
It’s just different
Having a Phone
PEW has wonderful Studies about this
53 million American adults use instant messenger
Teens think email is a way to talk to Old People- do we want to be old people
Not having IM is as important as not having a phone
Teen was a completely different person when in person than online.
Had an entire conversation about books online.
Any question you get at the ref desk you will get on IM
Teens would add the library to their buddy list, so when the library got online they would send a flood of messages.
Virtual Reference will open the library up to non-local questions.
We are forcing them in the Library Designed world
Myspace is huge.
Getting more hits than Google
16 libraries have a page on MySpace
At a gaming program teen said, “Hey is it alright if I run upstairs and grab a book or magazine”
Video games in the library is a great idea
http://walkingpaper.org/pla- up within next 24 hours
River Forest Public Library
Received message “what is 505” teen wanted to know the relevance of the number on Ruben’s shirt. They wanted information before they purchased the shirt.
Before she arrived at library, there was a history of fighting. They had a police officer in library. No One came
When officers were short, they could not have an officer, so they hired someone who liked teens.
Now they lost funding for it, they could not even have a person
“If we entice them will they come?”
They are right next door to middle school
There is competition. You have to be ready to invite them in and not throw them right back out again.
Updating space and collection
Provide new services
Prepare for the future
Carved out niche.
Turned bookcase to create a little pocket. They don’t like big open space.
Add some comfy beanbag chairs, add some books they love.
It is nutty for a little while but then they settle down they pull books off the shelf to read, they ask questions about homework and talk with friends
How does all of your staff treat teens, Circulation, Reference….
They also have to be empowered to deal with the difficulties of patrons.
You have to teach staff the reason why it’s a good thing that the teens are there, that they talk and work in groups for assignments.
Have a code of conduct. THAT APPLIES TO EVERYONE.
What is your boards’ position to teens in library?
They need same explanations as staff
They need to share same story that staff is sharing when they are approached
Looking at the future:
Referendum- If your school cuts after school programs what will happen?
ASK= After School Kids
Board thinks that a program to have teens in the library after school to watch a movie, play a game, learn about databases…
Told her they didn’t want a daycare service. She could have a room, but if she gets the money she can do it.
She has $9,000 now.
that teens come with accessories- backpacks, scooters, bicycles,
Let them work together, designed spaces for it
Let them play together.
Understand they talk
Let them feel comfortable
Make sure everyone tells the same story.
Myspace is like having a bike. Its dangerous, Kids could get hurt, but we teach them how to use and be safe-Aaron