A few weeks ago someone I follow on Twitter tweeted something like – this is a paraphrase – “I’m talking about Twitter in a workshop and people aren’t getting it. Is it an age thing?” Immediately I sent a reply that said, “Not an age thing but a mindset thing.”

This “mindset thing” is something I’ve been pondering quite a bit in relation to teen services. Librarians and library school students are always asking me, “Do I have to dress like a teen, look like a teen, act a certain way, be young in order to work with teens?” The answer is always pretty much the same and it goes something like this, “It’s not about how you look it’s about your mindset. If you are willing to listen to teens and show an interest in what they are interested in then teens will respect you – just like you respect them – and they will talk with you about their needs and interests.”

Age has nothing to do with an ability to work with teens or an ability to grasp how technology can fit into teen services. I know plenty of 20something librarians who aren’t going to be good teen librarians and I know plenty of 20something librarians who aren’t interested – at all – in technology and how it can help to improve library services. On the other hand, I know many 40 year old + librarians who are going to be or are great teen librarians. I know many 40 year old + librarians who are all over technology and doing some pretty amazing things with teens on integrating technology into the programs and services they provide.

The thing is that we all have to have the right mindset in order to succeed in whatever job it is that we do. If it’s a job working with teens then we have to be open to looking at the technology they use, and might be using, and consider openly what its implications are for work with the age group. It’s not about liking the technology but it is about putting dislikes aside and being willing to have an open mind to what teens see in technology and how they use it.

If working with teens you do have to like the age group and you have to be open to what they are interested in and be willing to listen and talk to teens as real people.

Keep an open mind as you plan and implement services for teens – no matter what form those services might take – and your age (whether it’s 20, 30, 40, 50, or more) won’t make any difference at all.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

One Thought on “Mindset

  1. Heather Booth [Visitor] on August 1, 2007 at 3:05 pm said:

    Excellent point, Linda!

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