photo of kid feet in sneakers surrounded by books, notebooks, tablet, and smartphone Last week in the first post in this month’s YALSAblog Professional Learning series on innovation and change, I posted a set of resources to read, listen to, and view. This week it’s time to start a discussion about barriers to thinking differently about teen services in libraries and how the resource materials posted last week help you to think about new ways to overcome those barriers.

One of the barriers I regularly face, and also see in other people’s institutions, is that of time. There are lots of ways to think about time within the context of thinking differently. One of the things that I found the article about disruptive innovation focused on really well is that thinking differently, doing things differently, and disrupting traditional practice takes time. And, not only that, but it takes time to fail, analyze what didn’t work, and try a new or different approach. In libraries this time factor can be a really big barrier to thinking differently. It’s a lot more convenient and takes less time to keep doing things the way they have been done before.

Because of the time factor required in thinking differently in my work I like to think in what I often call mind-sized bites. For example, I often ask, what are the smaller pieces that we can work on to start the process of thinking differently, innovating, and making change? Can we start with a small focus and then build that out? I think that the examples (Apple and NetFlix) in the disruptive innovation article speak to that. I think about my first iPhone and all of the features I wanted that it didn’t have. Over time Apple improved and changed that product, based on user feedback and changes in society. The product was a first iteration. How do we iterate in teen services as way to manage the time “problem” in order to effectively work with and for adolescents?

This week let’s talk about this:

  • What barriers do you face when it comes to thinking differently about service for and with teens?
  • What did the resources from last week get you thinking about in relation to those barriers?
  • Do you have thoughts about how time plays a factor in thinking differently – jumping off of my comments?
  • What questions or comments do you have from what others are writing?

It would be great to have a discussion on this topic so feel free to post your own thoughts as well as replying to others.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

4 Thoughts on “YALSA Professional Learning: The Future of Library Services for and with Teens – Thinking Differently

  1. From Jessi Snow:

    The article that resonated with me most was the 6 Steps for Successfully Bringing Change to Your Company. Despite this not being written for the “library world”, I think that is one of the reasons it did resonate with me. There is a lot we can take from the business world.

    This article laid out in a systematic way in which change CAN happen by working with staff throughout the process. This was one of those good reminders to think about how to go about instituting change by involving staff in the process by bringing them along right from the get go and having all involved. When The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: a Call to Action report came out, I shared it with the staff I work with and asked them to pull out areas that resonated with them as well as areas that they felt we as a team should think about focusing on. Nothing was dictated, it was an exercise for those who wanted to think about our focus areas and how best to move those forward. In addition, the Future’s Report allows one to create a strategy and vision and this is what we did. As we worked as a team we focused on areas we are focusing our year on and it was laid out in a clear and concise way we all knew the expectations

    What barriers do you face when it comes to thinking differently about service for and with teens?

    I feel very lucky in that I work in a space that is just for teens, it is a separate space. And the staff I work with are all teen specialists. I know this isn’t how a lot of teen spaces are and this is a barrier for some teen librarians in which they have to face staff’s perceptions and treatment of teens in their libraries. How do librarians deal with this possible barrier?

  2. I really like the series of posts “30 Days On Innovation,” because they knock out the intimidation factor of innovation. Instead of radically changing everything all at once, why not take some basic steps – like reaching out to homeschoolers, trying a new app, and incorporating teen art into your space – that may seem small but have the potential to make a big impact.

    I think a big barrier to innovation is not knowing where to start, or even just feeling too overwhelmed to start. Taking small steps one at a time helps to break out of that.

  3. Jessi, your comment about the article resonating – at least in part because it didn’t focus on libraries – I think is really important. Sometimes library staff focus so much on what libraries are doing without looking at the broader world that the result is being very insular and not outwardly focused or thinking big picture. I actually often tell people that I spend most of my time paying attention to what’s happening outside of libraries and then try to make the connection to how that can be translated to library service to teens. It’s a great way to expand thinking and also get outside of ourselves.

    I also really like that idea of asking what staff think it would be worth working on over a particular period of time. That can help in expanding thinking and help to make everyone comfortable in new ideas and stretching themselves.

    It’s funny I’ve encountered more and more people talking about library staff not being open to teens. I heard that a lot about five years ago and then not so much and now again. I wonder if that’s a result of all the great work people have been doing to serve teens in non-traditional ways. What do others think about that and how to help colleagues think differently about the importance of serving teens in what might be ways that create non-traditional learning environments.

  4. Donna I really like that point about not knowing where to start and I think that the more we can provide examples for others – like that innovation series – the more we can help with the starting. I have a question for everyone though, what about the fact that every community is different? How do we successful customize others examples and help them to fit our own communities? Thoughts, anyone?

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