One of my favorite things about ALA conferences is that I get to hear dozens of things people are doing in the libraries. It’s always energizing to hear about the cool programs, exciting new services, and even listen to stories about teens using the library.
However, this can be discouraging for people who are having difficulties establishing teen services in their branches. These stories can turn into a long list of things you wish you could do if only my boss would let me.
What many do not realize is that all of us have road bumps along the way to our successes. We all wish we had more space, more support, or could reach more teens. I have yet to find a library system that is perfect (if you work in one please let me know :D)
The most important thing is that you are connecting with teens, whether it’s recommending books to teens that have to read something for an assignment, or hosting a program where teens can create and socialize. All of the great programs that your see libraries doing, come from librarians listening to teens and giving them what the teens ask. You can’t do this without having a staff that understands the value teen services offer, so you have to make sure you tell them.
Part of being a successful teen librarian understanding how to work like a politician or advocate for your teens. If you are feeling overwhelmed in a library system that is saying no, try to find out why. Align what you want to do with the priorities your director, board, and community have. Spread the word in your community about all the positive things that teens do. Prepare an “elevator speech” about why you need teen services, and share it with the people in charge. Also most importantly work with your colleagues and community to do things that are important to them. Once you get to know all of the key players in your library and your community and find out what is important to them try to ask for what you want in a way that highlights how it benefits them and what they care about.
That is one key to getting some support when you feel frustrated. Does anyone have any other suggestions?