As teen librarians, we have to connect with our users–and this may be true for us more than other library professionals. Teens are great at seeing straight through us, and being fake is no way to earn a teen’s trust or get them interested in using the library. With that said, there are some easy ways to learn about things that interest teens.
Stay up-to-date on local high school sports and theater, and watch as many movies and TV shows as you can. I really can’t say enough about watching Gossip Girl if you want to connect with teen girls. Use Pandora or another music app to learn about new music. Another good way to see what teens in your area are into is by reading their info pages on their Facebook profiles…I know, I can’t stop talking about Facebook!
When I lived in a dorm with teenage girls, all they did was watch the Disney channel and MTV, for hours on end. You may feel like your brain is leaking out your ears if you follow this model, but it’s important to at least know what’s being broadcast and who the important people are. And that’s where the gossip blogs come in. I’m not sure I can advise you to do this on company time, as not all employers may see reading gossip blogs as professional development, but if you have 15 minutes at home, this is a great way to be able to talk to teens about one thing that matters to them. It may take you a little while to figure out who everyone is…but that’s what Wikipedia is for! Gossip blogs cover people who are of the ultimate importance right this very minute, and trust me: teens read them.
Here are some must-reads. Be warned that the content on these sites is constantly changing, and there may be posted photos or text that is not particularly safe for work.
Perez Hilton [okay, full disclosure, I actually loathe Perez Hilton, but his blog is definitely the most popular and therefore cannot be avoided]
Go Fug Yourself [not so much a gossip blog as a catalog of terrible outfits that celebs are wearing]
Yeah, this stuff is incredibly superficial, and sometimes it’s terribly mean-spirited. However, we can’t ignore the force that is celebrity gossip and teens’ (and many adults’) obsession with it. If you don’t want to feel like teens are speaking a second language or that they live in a world populated with people you’ve never heard of, perusing these blogs is a good way to crack the code.
(And for the record, “Speidi” = Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag, the arch-villains of uber-reality show The Hills on MTV. They’re the king and queen of trashy celeb gossip, the ones you love to hate. So dive in, and gossip your heart out!)