The Turner Free Library’s YALSA Teen Intern Grant was a huge success! We used the grant to hire two interns to both take over an existing and well-established summer teen volunteer program as well as undertake a new construction project. The internship position was posted in April and the library had 15 teen applicants. After reviewing resumes, we had 8 teens come in for interviews in May. This process was fantastic as many came with great resumes and in very professional attire. We used this as an opportunity to give direction to any teens that were not as well prepared. We selected two candidates for the internship position based on their qualifications, resumes, and leadership abilities (evident in the interviews). The library was able to pass along information from the other qualified candidates to the town, which had its own internship program this summer.

In June, both interns came to the library for training. They learned how to use Google Drive for tracking program volunteers, Canva for marketing, and some basic management skills to use during their programs over the summer. They set up spreadsheets to track volunteers, task, and supplies as well as made Amazon lists for their building project. Shanai was chosen to head the library beautification program, which has between 15-30 volunteers once a week every summer. She managed this team of her peers very well, keeping everyone on task and all of their information for volunteer hours organized.

Devin was tasked with managing a smaller team of 4-6 teens in building a puppet theater as well as marketing and performing for the local children. This project was unique as the teens involved (under Devin’s qualified supervision) learned how to use power tools, paint, act, and create a lasting puppet theater that the library will use regularly. Both interns showed fantastic leadership skills by engaging their peer volunteers and ensuring they stayed on task.

The library not only looks extremely “beautified” but it also has a new teen-built structure in the children’s room (the puppet theater).  I would say the biggest take away from this teen internship project was not the actual cleaning program or puppet theater creation. The biggest take away is that the community remarked on and observed a large group of teens (led by their peers) in bettering both the library and the community. Our puppet show is next week and all of the teen volunteers, led by their very dedicated teen interns are excited to present their show to the community! This program was very successful with about 20 teens on average, participating weekly and the teen interns utilizing their knowledge of technology and organization to keep things running smoothly. There are a few things I would do differently next year to make the program even better. Firstly, I would check with the town to see if we could expand the beautification project outside of library walls. I would definitely utilize some of the grant funds to purchase cleaning supplies (as our custodian was not thrilled that the teens used all of his). Finally, I would advertise the position for a shorter period of time (it was on all of our social media outlets, paper flyers, and sent to the schools).

Elizabeth LaRosee is the Asst. Director and Young Adult & Emerging Tech Librarian at Turner Free Library in Randolph, MA.

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