I’ve officially started my new job, heading up a brand-new teen department. While the children’s department has been serving teens here for a while now, this is the first time that my library has had a separate teen librarian with a separate budget and all that. So, I’m starting from the beginning, pretty much. To make things a bit more complicated, we’re moving into a new library in January. Right now, we don’t have a real space for teens, but we will in the new building.

There’s a lot to think about (hello, understatement). I’ve got my budget, so now I have to figure out how to spend it. The teen collection here is pretty good — but there are a lot of aging titles that need to be evaluated (some of them are still circulating like crazy), and there are some worn copies that need to be replaced. We also have a sizeable graphic novel collection (mostly manga) that I am totally unfamiliar with. The kids at my last library weren’t asking graphic novels and I never got around to educating myself.

And then there’s the non-book stuff. We have a Wii, but no games except the sports package that comes with the console. So we need more of those, and maybe another console. Plus DVDs and CDs that appeal specifically to teens — there are tons of movies and CDs in the adult collection that teens might like, but there should be a small collection in the teen room of stuff that adults can’t have (or wouldn’t want anyway). Right? And I’d love to have a circulating video game collection. And board games that stay in the building.

I’m starting to write down programming ideas, but I can’t do much til I get a TAG off the ground. I also need to get to know the teens who are already using the library, and to meet the ones who aren’t (how??). I need to publicize our new program — again, how? I put up a facebook page, but of course no one’s looked at it yet.

It’s so overwhelming! And cool and exciting. I’m having a hard time prioritizing, especially since there are six long months til the new building opens and the teen room actually exists.

So — I know with ALA going on, many of you are busy with travel and attending the conference, but if there’s anyone out there who wants to leave a comment with a piece of advice, a resource I should check out, or an experience they want to share, I would really appreciate it!

I’m going to keep posting here, working my way through this process with all of you. So wish me luck. And if you’re going to Anaheim, have fun and safe travels!

About Sarah Ludwig

I am the Academic Technology Coordinator at Hamden Hall Country Day School in Hamden, CT. Prior to that, I was the head of teen, technology, and reference services at the Darien Library in Darien, CT. I started my library career as a school librarian at a small boarding school in Western Massachusetts.

4 Thoughts on “Starting From Scratch (Sort Of)

  1. Congrats on your new job, and what a challenge/awesome opportunity to get teen services up and running at your library!

    I’m in my third year as a teen librarian at my library, and I believe you could start to offer programming in the fall without a TAG. Create a survey and get teens to fill it out over the summer. Find out what days of the week and times would work best for them. This past school year, I offered a bunch of after-school programs which all had poor attendance. So, my summer survey is identifying whether or not night-time programs or Saturday programs would get a bigger audience. Beside day/time options, the survey is also soliciting ideas for programming. I’m also asking parents of teens to fill out the survey, since with younger teens, it’s the parents with the keys šŸ™‚ i’ve received nearly 150 responses thus far, and it looks like I’ll be rearranging my schedule in the fall so I can offer Saturday afternoon programs! Programs suggested so far include yoga, cartooning, book clubs, art show, etc.

    As if you don’t have enough to think about, you might also consider a teen volunteer program. My attempt(s) at a TAG were flops, but my teen volunteer program has been a roaring success. I’m able to chat with my volunteers about ideas, and if I do decide to have another stab at a TAG, I have a group of responsible and library-interested teens to recruit.

    If you want to drop me a line about any of this, I’m aprilw [at] dpls [dot] us. Have fun!

  2. Welcome to the world of being a teen librarian! It’s a great road, but full of pitfalls and heartbreaks. First just get the lay of the land. A survey is a great idea. Also, maybe if you can’t start a TAB right away, how about just a focus group or a meet and greet? Provide food and invite teens to share the opinions with you. What do they like? What programs do they want to see? Then find one you can do pretty easily and do it!

  3. Becky Mazur on June 26, 2008 at 3:02 pm said:

    Congrats Sarah! I just started the Graphic Novel/Manga collection at my library, and I got really into it, so maybe I can help? Email anytime — I’m rhmazur@gmail.com.

  4. I think starting a TAG group is a great idea. I just started at my job in February and the teens in this area must have really wanted something to do after school b/c I have a pretty active middle school TAG group that meets once a week and helps plan all my teen events. The way I started this TAG group and the last one I started was by contacting the English teachers at the local middle school w/a nomination letter to give to kids they thought were natural leaders in one way or another. The 15 teens I got from that then invited their friends over subsequent weeks and now we have a 25 member group w/avg attendance at TAG mtgs holding at 15. They’re great help in planning events and ensuring that events have good attendance. The kids have also been great about volunteering with programs for the little kids. (I’m the youth services librarian for all ages of kids). Feel free to email me about this if you want to ask more questions! I’m lgardner at sailsinc dot org

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