Do you sometimes wonder what you could do to get more administrative support for teen services in your library? There are some relatively simple steps you can take to win friends and influence managers! This is a six-part series that shares some tips from managers that you can integrate into your work life and maybe make some positive changes in your library.

In the first two weeks, I talked about presenting yourself as a professional and about speaking the language. This week I’m going to get even more practical and talk about:

Collecting Data

As I noted last week, teen librarians can sometimes get too focused on the teen point of view: we think it should be obvious that teens need our services, collections, and programs, because they’re important for the teens. But your manager needs to know more than that. Your manager needs to know the value of the services, programs, and collections that the library is providing, and whether the money allocated to teen services is well spent.

So how do you prove that? Or even more importantly, how do you prove that teen services needs a’ greater portion of the library’s budget? By collecting the appropriate data and presenting it to your supervisors and managers.

It’s not good enough to say, for example, “We need more money to buy materials for the teen collection.” You need to start by collecting some basic data about the teen collection. What might you need to know?

  • What is the library’s materials budget?
  • What percentage of that budget goes to teen materials? Adult materials? Children’s materials?
  • What is the library’s circulation?
  • What percentage of that circulation is from teen materials? Adult materials? Children’s materials?
  • How many people are in the library’s service area?
  • How many of them are teens? Adults? Children?

Then you can do some simple calculations. You may find out that teen materials represent 15% of the library’s circulation, but only 2% of the library’s materials budget. Hmmm . . . think how much circulation might increase if there was even more money for teen materials!

Or perhaps you learn that teens are 12% of your library’s service area residents, but only 5% of your cardholders. It might be time to think about ways to get more teens in the library, which would increase circulation and usage.

It could prove very interesting to track circulation on the days that you have well-attended teen programs, or after you do a school visit. Managers and directors like to see circulation increasing, and if you can show that there is a direct connection between your programs and a circulation increase, you can make an impression.

Spend some time thinking about some of the types of data that you can collect, and how that might bolster youir case for improved services. For more ideas on data collection and evaluation, see my book’ Evaluating Teen Services and Programs (ALA/Neal-Schuman, 2012).

Next week, we’ll talk about ways to share some of that information up the ladder to your supervisor and manager.

Sarah Flowers

YALSA Immediate Past-President

About Sarah Flowers

Sarah Flowers is a YALSA Past President and former Deputy County Librarian for the Santa Clara County (CA) Library. Currently she does writing and speaking on topics related to teen services and teaches online courses for California's Infopeople Project.

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