Last week was a bit rough at my library. My colleagues and I read in our local paper where a ‘teen regular’ (a teen that regularly visited the library for many years) is among five teens arrested for murdering a 17 year old over an issue of disrespect. Obviously this case hasn’t gone to trial yet since the news just appeared in the paper so we don’t yet know the outcome and it could be a very long time until we do.

While we might not get the chance to see this particular teen in the library anytime soon, it might serve to motivate us in connecting with teens a bit deeper than we might have done previously. If you find yourself in a similar situation, perhaps the following three suggestions can help:

  • Does your library provide outreach to teens at a jail, prison, or juvenile detention center? Is this an area you might have been interested in being involved in but haven’t taken the time to do so? Consider joining YALSA’s lockdown listserv which is an active group that discusses issues with librarians and incarcerated youth. This can be a great way to start on the path to outreach services and make a difference in the lives of teens.
  • Review the Man Up! column in VOYA by Elsworth Rockefeller, Rollie Welch and Summer Hayes. This column addresses issues around serving guys in the library. Whether it’s book titles to connect them with or creating a more supportive culture around understanding and serving their needs, this column is chockfull of helpful tips.
  • Join a YALSA Selection Committee While there are many committees to join in YALSA that can help influence our work in serving teens at our own libraries better, joining a selection committee is one way that can help connect teens with books that can make a difference in their lives even without them necessarily realizing it.

You likely have many other suggestions that have worked for you in finding ways to motivate yourself and others after encountering a difficult circumstance in the life of a teen that you have gotten to know over the years. Please feel free to share in the comments below.

About Kelly Czarnecki

Kelly Czarnecki is a Teen Librarian at ImaginOn with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. She is a member of the YALSA blog advisory board.

One Thought on “Finding motivation to help make a difference with teens

  1. Mike Buono on September 24, 2012 at 9:15 pm said:

    First off, I am very sorry to hear about the young man. It is hard to see someone you know get mixed up in a situation like that. Second, we keep pamphlets/bibliographies in plain sight that provide teens with the locations of public services to address food, homelessness and negative emotions. We have them located with other bibliographies and we have them on a pin board. It makes them easy to see, and it provides them an opportunity to get them without anyone noticing.

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