The Bartlett Public Library District had nine teen interns during the summer of 2018 which was made possible by the generosity of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and YALSA. The nine teen interns (Ayesha, Abby, Abigail, Andrew, Cailin, Emily, Ian, Safa, and Sakhee) learned about teamwork, problem solving, and customer service skills by working with and for library staff as the teens designed and facilitated programs for youth. The assistance of the teen interns made it possible to offer four more programs that did not require registration each week at the Bartlett Public Library.

Abigail shows off a puppet craft that she taught to youth.

The nine interns were split into different groups: one assisted library staff with a Readers’ Theater program, four were STEM/LEGO program interns, and four were Craft program interns. Each group had an hour each week for planning and preparation of their activity and then an hour to run the program. Each week, Ruth Anne Mielke and I (the direct supervisors’ for the interns) checked in with the teen interns to make sure that they had the supplies they needed and to see how comfortable they felt with how the program ran that day and if they had suggestions for the next week. This weekly check-in was an essential part of engaging with the teen interns and ensuring that their internship was beneficial to them and the library.

The teen interns connected with the youth of the community, and the library staff often heard from parents that they were grateful that the library had more drop-in programs during the summer. We would not have been able to offer these programs without the teen interns- they brought creativity and enthusiasm.

Cailin promoted “being yourself” to youth at one of her craft programs.

An important part of the internship was the application process and the training- there were 39 total applicants, we interviewed twelve of them, and then chose nine interns. Each of the nine interns attended a two hour training session specific to their position where they received a tour of the library, introduction to library staff, a written job description, and training to help plan and facilitate programs. This was important to ensure that the interns had a strong foundation before they interacted with the community and to set them up for success throughout the summer.

The teens also shared in their final evaluations reflections that show that they gained work experience and career readiness through the program:

“I grew in my abilities to explain things to others because I had to work with kids of various different ages and backgrounds, some of whom understood activities very easily and some who needed more help.” – Abby

“After this internship, I am now leaning more towards working in a place that requires interaction with kids.” – Safa

“I liked that it was very independent. It gave something similar to a real work experience.” – Cailin

I was pleased with the professional attitude of each of the teen interns throughout the summer and would run an intern program again. This grant provided a valuable opportunity to the teens and the library.

Abigail Weaver is the Youth, Teen, and Adult Services Librarian at Bartlett Public Library District in Bartlett, Illinois.

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