A few months ago, my supervisor asked me to help coordinate a teen video project about how the library has made a difference in their lives. I thought it sounded like fun and besides, how hard could it be, as I work with video as a medium pretty much every day at my library.
One of the first teens I asked to participate, I had a hard time coming up with the right words to convince him that he had a wealth of experiences to share. Fortunately, one of my colleagues came to the rescue and started citing specific instances of his participation throughout the years. His face immediately lit up in remembrance. This is what we needed to capture on video. I realized I had a lot to learn.
The goal of the project was to complete a series of videos that would be uploaded to our YouTube site here. Teens were given such prompts as ‘what skills have you learned at the library’ or ‘how has the library made a difference in your life’?.
The purpose of the project was to give them a medium they were already familiar with and one in which they could express themselves in their own words. As adults, we might give feedback about our library by responding to a survey or talking to our funding sources. While teens can and do respond in these ways as well, the impact of hearing and seeing them directly is much more poignant. Video was one way to do that.
As my own approach improved, so I hope did giving other staff throughout the system direction and guidance in working with filming teens who frequent their branch.
If you’re looking for teens to contribute to community dialogue about how the library is impacting their lives, ask them. And when you’ve had a long, tiring and even frustrating day, tune in to where you’ve uploaded the videos to remind yourself that the library and you are making a difference.