FishChances are you’ve heard of Learning Labs, or you might even be fortunate enough to have one at your library. While these digital media spaces lend themselves to programs and projects connecting with teens, this post will look at connecting with other library staff through a mentorship role, with the collaborative creation of a Learning Lab as one possible example.

Last month, Urban Libraries Council hosted a webinar with organizations from Columbus, OH, St. Paul, MN, and New York, NY. Each speaker shared their execution of a’ Learning Lab,’ as well as the challenges they faced, including the demand for staff training or spending less time maintaining a virtual space. This webinar was an opportunity for organizations undergoing these huge shifts in their models for serving teens to share with other librarians some considerations to bring to a similar project.

While constructing a whole new space might not be in your particular deck of cards any time soon, sharing what you learned from a project or even a program can be a great way to connect with our co-workers and work towards our shared goal of improving teen services. Applying to participate in’ YALSA’s Mentoring program, writing an article in YALS, presenting at a local or national conference, or even just sharing your work through email or your staff blog can all be great ways to get the ball rolling and use your own experiences and practices to help others.

Alternatively, if there’s something you’ve always wanted to learn more about, don’t hesitate to ask someone if they would be willing to mentor you. That could be as simple as allowing you to shadow them… be sure to consider the specific roles or skills you want to learn about and be sure to be cognizant of your mentor’s time. Most professionals will likely be flattered and more than willing to share their expertise.

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.

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