The Cabell County Public Library consists of 8 libraries scattered throughout Cabell County, West Virginia. For our 2017 Summer Reading Program, we provided vast programs for individuals of all ages. We had animal programs, engineering programs, art projects, book clubs, and more. It was definitely a fun and educational summer!

We were awarded the 2017 Summer Learning Resources Grants from YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to provide a teen internship program at all eight of our library locations.  All interns worked five hours a day for one week in the summer. 

We wanted our teen interns to learn a lot from their experience working at the library.  Mainly we wanted them to:

  • Understand hierarchy of the workplace- what it means to be an employee reporting to a manager.
  • Learn about being a part of a team, working together to achieve goals and objectives, and ultimately building strong and supportive relationships with peers and adults.
  • Have experience in making their own decisions.
  • Know that it’s okay to make mistakes and try new things. We wanted to empower our teens through education.
  • Be motivated individuals who gained confidence, resiliency, and learned to trust themselves as individuals who are capable of giving back to their community and bettering themselves.

We opened up the jobs, and the applications started pouring in!  Out of the tons of qualified applicants we were able to narrow the group down to a few individuals and select the perfect interns for the positions.  Some of the teens were familiar with the library, and some knew nothing about the library or what we have to offer to our community.

The teen interns helped with a variety of tasks.  They served free lunch, helped with programs, signed kids up for summer reading, helped create displays, shelve books, and more. They were a HUGE help and were missed when their internships ended.

Our teen interns were able to learn, work in leadership roles, build a sense of community, and explore their creativity. They gained critical skills needed to enter the workforce. They were provided workforce development training through learning in real-world scenarios. They explored careers in library settings, and they were able to connect with adult mentors (library staff) and learn through their experiences. They were also able to make decisions and become more independent individuals. They were a part of a team that worked together to achieve goals and objectives, ultimately building strong and supportive relationships with peers and adults. They were also positive role models for our young customer demographic. Our teens were empowered through education, and they gained confidence, resiliency, and learned to trust themselves as individuals who are capable of giving back to their community and bettering themselves.

This program enabled our library system to reach our teen demographic like we have never been able to before. We learned that many teens in our community are looking for volunteer and internship opportunities to gain crucial skills needed to thrive outside of high school. We realized there is a significant need for teen volunteer positions within our community. The teens were able to learn about library staff and our profession, and we were able to better ourselves and our organization from working with the teens. Many of our teens said working at the library was a great learning experience.  Some even noted that they were sad that their time interning was over- we reminded them they can volunteer any time for free!   The most important thing to come out of this program was that the teens were able to build lasting and crucial relationships with the adult library staff. Many of the interns have continued to visit the library, and the teens and their parents would like to see the program continued in the future. Overall, the program was highly successful and allowed us to do our part to help the teens lead successful and fulfilling lives.

Luke, Main Library Teen Intern, helping with programs and cleaning.

Mary Margaret, Gallaher Library Teen Intern, helping a child play a summer reading game.

Mary Margaret, Gallaher Library Teen Intern, helping two small children with an alphabet game.

My name is Breana Bowen, and I am the Assistant Director for Youth Services at the Cabell County Public Library in Huntington, WV. I graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and I graduated from Kent State University gaining my Masters of Library and Information Science degree. I am a member of WVLA, ALA, PLA, SELA, YALSA, and the ALSC. I love serving the public, and I am thankful to be able to offer programming to the teens in our community!

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