RoseMary Honnold, Teen Read Week Committee Chair
Editor-in-Chief, VOYA Magazine
Happy Teen Read Week!
Time is our greatest gift, and giving your time to the people and things that matter most to you creates a satisfying life for you and the recipients benefit in many ways. The Search Institute lists asset building ideas for youth workers and the key to all of the ideas is quality time spent engaging teens in conversation, meaningful activities, and providing space and materials that they need. (http://www.search-institute.org/content/asset-building-ideas-for-youth-workers) As teachers and librarians and parents who care about teens, giving your time to do these things is one of the most important parts of your jobs.
Yet, it is not always an easy task to inflict yourself upon teens in the library. Teens can be a bit leery of adults, sporting a well-earned paranoia that the adults are suspicious and watching them for misdeeds. So, finding ways that make it easy and comfortable for teens to talk with you is a big step to building relationships with them and making the library a more welcoming place.
At the Coshocton Public Library during the month of October, I posted a sign in the YA room that said, â€œTake Time to Talk to Your Librarian: This is no trick, you are in for a treat if you go say hello to RoseMary this week!â€ to encourage teens to come and talk to me. (http://cplrmh.com/images/librarian.gif)’ I chatted a couple of minutes with each of them, introducing myself if they didn’t already know me, asking for their names and something about their reading interests or school activities, and gave them a bite size candy bar or other freebie and a flyer for upcoming programs. I told them to make sure they come and ask me if they ever needed help with research or finding something good to read. The word got around that the librarian was giving away stuff and I got to chat one-on-one with a lot of teens throughout the month. Clever teens came to talk to me every week of October to see what I was giving away! This first informal, no pressure conversation made future interactions, when the teens did need help, easier for them to initiate. A small investment of time and of money can go a long way to welcoming teens in the library.
Take time to:
- Provide teens equal access to all library resources.
- Provide high quality customer service to teens.
- Become familiar with popular books and magazines that teens enjoy.
- Read some of the popular books and magazines and talk to teens about them.
- Design a “cool” space for teens. Make it accessible, comfortable and eye-appealing.
- Provide multiple copies of favorite books in paperback editions.
- Open the library during the times teens use the library the most.
- Involve teens in library activities, services, collection development and programs.
- Ask teens for their opinions and advice about library collections, policies and programs.