In the Buckeye State, teen services librarians are enjoying grassroots professional get-togethers as a way to get out, meet our peers, share great ideas, and recharge. At least four recently-formed networks of teen librarians have led to buzz-worthy events–and all four were so popular that they are now recurring. In Ohio, we’re “round on both ends and high in the middle”, and we have a lot going on from east (Teen Library Services League) to west (Teen Think Tank), from the heart of Ohio (COAL) to all around the state (Take Five)!OH

Central Ohio Awesome Librarians (by Christiana)

COAL is the jokey acronym for a fun, but no-joke, quarterly meeting of Central Ohio teen librarians. Since COTL isn’t a great name, we call ourselves COAL, for Central Ohio Awesome Librarians.

The inspiration for COAL came from the nature of the life of a teen services librarian. The teen department is very often a department of one. Coming from a children’s services background, I missed the camaraderie and excitement of bouncing ideas off similarly invested peeps. With Jen Lawson’s (teen librarian at nearby Grandview Heights Public Library) logistical skills, COAL was started as a hope to see if other area teen librarians felt the same.’  Luckily, they did!

Our group has been talking about programming, summer reading program, the latest greatest YA read, and anything else that comes up. The anything-that-comes-up part is what led to one of my favorite moments of COAL so far: a question about programming brought about great discussion about what we were seeing with programming numbers, why it’s happening, and what we can do to fix it. We often express to each other how affirming it is just to know you’re more normal than you think you are, and to know there’s nothing wrong with you personally. It should come as no surprise that Teen Services librarians struggle with similar questions to the teens they serve, right?516_4

Licking County Library’s Teen Library Services League (by Amy)

A Teen Library Services League (TLSL) started meeting last November at the Main Library of the Licking County Library (LCL) in Newark, Ohio. The goal of the TLSL is to provide an opportunity for teen librarians and other library staff interested in serving teens to come together quarterly and share program ideas and services targeted at this age group. Both school and public librarians are involved.

At the first TLSL meeting, a local police officer discussed bullying, cyber-bullying, & sexting among teenagers. At the second meeting, LCL Teen Services staff shared book talks and information about artistic programs, book discussion groups and role playing game programs. Attendees also participated in small group discussions and shared their discoveries with the whole group.

Meeting and sharing among other public and school library staff passionate about libraries and providing positive opportunities for teens promotes a continued ardor and helps to better serve the teens. A quote from Neil Gaiman’s Stardust rings true about the benefit of helping each other in our library world: “But then it occurred to him that any progress he had made on his quest so far he had made by accepting the help that had been offered to him.”

Teen Think Tank (by Steve)

It all started with three teen librarians who like to collaborate. Rikki Unterbrink (Amos Memorial Library), Erin Gillespie (Findlay-Hancock County Public Library), and I would share ideas and help brainstorm on a regular basis. One day we realized that it would be great to get even more people sharing ideas and helping to brainstorm when needed. Teen Think Tank is what became of that conversation.

Meeting twice each year, the goal is for each attendee to leave with at least one new contact and a handful of new ideas for programs, decorations, crafts, books, and more. Each presentation throughout the day is carefully planned to keep everyone actively involved. When attending Teen Think Tank, you try the games, make the crafts, construct the decorations and see the books.Take Five Poster copy_0924

The first Teen Think Tank was held at the Lima Public Library in September of 2013. We hoped for 10-15 teen librarians from around the immediate area in northwest Ohio. Over 40 people from all over Ohio were in attendance. After the initial meeting, a Facebook group was established. Using that and email, the conversation has continued with frequent posts in the group asking for advice with programs that are in the works, sharing what they’re doing with their teens and helping to keep everyone up to date with trends and news relating to our field.

Take Five: A Youth Services Dialogue (by Janet)

Take Five is a grassroots professional dialogue that brings together people who work with teens in public and school libraries, museums, arts organizations, and other learning environments. It was established in early 2012 by an informal planning team representing public and school libraries, the Kent State University School of Library & Information Science, and the State Library of Ohio.

The organizers wanted the opportunity to get past duct-tape crafts and identifying projects for volunteens, to idea-sharing around large concepts including collaboration, technology, youth empowerment, and re-creating our institutions’ user experiences. We wanted to meet and learn from colleagues in related fields who also support our teens.

The result was a day of networking, discussion, and play attended by over 70 Ohio librarians and educators at the Columbus Museum of Art in May 2012. It encouraged creative approaches to problem-solving and goal-setting through conversation, brainstorming, and fun. Discussion of making this an annual event began as soon as the day ended. The second Take Five event, April 2013 at the Allen County Museum and the Lima Public Library, brought together over 100 attendees. The third annual event, “Take Five: Take Three”, will take place Friday, May 9, 2014 at the Akron-Summit County Public Library and Akron Art Museum.

So why “Take Five”? It’s more than a yummy candy bar, though we appreciate having a namesake treat to hand out to attendees. The goal of the event is for each participant to take away five new ideas, five new contacts, and five action steps. Or at least, to have a high-energy, memorable, and fun day trying!

If you’re in (or near) Ohio, and interested in getting involved in any of these events and networks, contact us:

Christiana/COAL –

Amy/Teen Library Services League –

Steve/Teen Think Tank –

Janet/Take Five –

Submitted by Christiana Congelio, Teen Librarian, Worthington Libraries; Amy Gantt, Head of Teen Services, Licking County Library; Steve Moser, Teen Librarian, Lima Public Library; and Janet Ingraham Dwyer, Library Consultant, State Library of Ohio.

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