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 five weeks, I talked about’ presenting yourself as a professional,’ speaking the language,’ collecting data, sharing information up the ladder, and taking a big-picture look.’ I’ll conclude this series by talking a bit about:

Getting Everyone On Board

One way to get managers to take notice of teen services and programs is to get everyone talking about those services and programs. “Everyone” means:

  • library staff
  • teens
  • parents
  • community members
  • trustees
  • elected officials
  • everyone!

How do you do that? You start by telling the stories. One manager in YALSA’s survey of manager-members suggested that we need to tell “stories of how teen services develop youth and transform communities.” Another suggested that we need to “connect teen services to improved community view of libraries.”

You hear these stories from your teens, from their parents, sometimes even from others. Take the time to collect those stories and share them with your supervisor and library director. Also, share those success stories with other staff members. We tend to get stuck in our own silos at work, but one big way you can help teens is by making sure that other library staff see the value of teen services and programs–children’s librarians, adult services librarians, circulation staff, technical services staff.

By sharing what you are doing with these other staff members you are accomplishing two things: you are keeping teen services in the front of their minds, and you are creating opportunities for partnerships among the staff. When you tell a circulation clerk about your teen program on scrapbooking, you may discover that the clerk is an expert scrapbooker herself, and can offer you some tips about where to get the best supplies. Or it may turn out that she has connections to a group of teens through her church, her children’s school, or some other community organization and could spread the news about your program there. One simple conversation and you have another partner on board!

The same goes for other community members. Especially if you live in the same community where you work, do all of your connections know what you do? Do your workout buddies, church friends, book group friends, parent group acquaintances, homeowners’ association members, and others you come into contact with know that you work with teens? Can they help spread the word around the community about your programs and services?

Find out something about your board of trustees or city council members. Are any of them parents or grandparents of teens? Can you supply them with summer reading information, booklists, information about homework help? Do you have a volunteer program they should know about?

The more integral teen library services are to the community, the more difficult it will be for the library’s director and trustees to cut the budget for teen services. When the library director is hearing from all sides about the wonderful things that are happening with teens in the library, he or she can in turn share those stories with the trustees or council, and make a strong case for increasing support for teen services.

I hope you have found some valuable tips in this blog series. For more ideas on how to improve teen services in your library, be sure to check out YALSA’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth and the’ Public Library Teen Services Evaluation Tool.’ 

And please use the comments to share your own success stories about how you succeeded in getting more administrative support for teen services in your library!

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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