We had a very successful Teen Summer Internship program last summer at the Laurel Public Library and when we received a grant through the generosity of the Dollar General literacy Foundation and YALSA we knew we would do a similar program again for our teens. We have a very strong teen volunteer program already in place so we knew this would be a great opportunity for our teens.

The process to be considered for an internship for the summer of 2018 started by requiring the teens to attend a mentoring program offered by a local community leader. The course was designed to run for eight weeks and during this time the teens learned many skills such as life skills, leadership skills, personal presentation, and public speaking. We initially started with eight teens, but regular attendance was an issue with the majority of the teens and we ended up with only three who completed the mentoring program and of those three, only two were selected for the internship. We also brought back one of last year’s interns, for a total of three for the summer.

After their selection, we met regularly with the selected teens to discuss their roles, do any necessary training, discuss time management and scheduling, and further expectations. We wanted our interns to start the summer feeling comfortable with what their roles would be and to ensure they had all the necessary tools to be successful.

Hannah was our teen who returned from last year and she interned again as an assistant in Youth Services, as well as training on the Circulation Desk. She helped with planning and implementing Summer Reading programs, she designed and put up displays, worked on putting together book bundles and pulling together supplies for programs. In Circulation, she was trained in all aspects of assisting patrons, checking in books, shelving, issuing library cards, etc. and did such an awesome job, she will continue this fall as a part-time paid staff member!

Our second intern was Josie and she developed a program called “Short Story Theater” which she held for children ages eight to eleven. She led the kids through the process of writing a short story, including character development, settings, and editing. Once the stories were completed, they recorded their stories with the writer of the story being the narrator and the other children reading the parts of the characters. The children had so much fun with this and loved getting a recording of their stories. Josie was a natural teacher and helped them to create great stories and develop story telling skills.

Our last intern unfortunately didn’t work out as well as we had hoped. We partnered this Summer with our local Boys and Girls Club to present a RIF (Reading is Fundamental) program in tandem with our Summer Lunch Program called “Reading and Feeding”. Our intern partnered with the presenter of the program and helped with the planning and implementing of the program which met three times a week. As the summer progressed, her attendance became more sporadic due to her work hours. It was a disappointment for us and also put a strain on the program to not have her there.

We have a reception planned so that we can recognize our interns and to present them with their certificates and their stipends. Their families and members of the community are invited to celebrate our interns with us!

This was our second year doing a Teen Internship program, and while we faced some challenges this Summer, we will definitely continue to offer this program. We will meet to analyze what changes may need to be made and look at factors that may have impacted the commitment and the understanding of the importance of being reliable and accountable. Despite these challenges, this was a very successful program for our library and for our teens. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive from our families, our community and from our interns. The impact this internship had on our teens and our community was significant. Our community has one of the highest poverty rates in the state, and programs like this present opportunities for our youth to gain valuable skills that they need to succeed and the confidence to step up in the community. It also helps our community to view our teens in a positive light and to see their value and their worth as productive members of this community.

Gail Bruce is a Youth Services Librarian at the Laurel Public Library in Laurel, DE.

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