This is part of a series of Session Notes from grantees who have received Professional Development grants from the Office of Commonwealth Libraries. Each grantee will share their professional development experience and include tips and other resources from the workshop or class. Grantees had their choice of an article for the Compendium, a webinar or a podcast. This project was made possible by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
By Rachael Troianos
Teen Services Librarian at Cranberry Public Library
While my experience at the YALSA Symposium on a whole was refreshing and I was able to attend a lot of different sessions, two sessions in particular were extremely helpful and thought provoking for me.
The Power of Proteen
Presented by Ashley Layne and Susan Myers
The presenters of this session shared their ideas for getting the voices of teens heard throughout the library and through the programs the library offers, which in turn further empowers these teens.
One idea in particular, having Teen Library Cards, was quite forward thinking. The teen cards at their libraries do not have overdue fees or require an adult’s permission to sign up for one. They do limit the amount of items that a teen can take out, but it still gets the library materials into a teenager’s hands and access to a computer. I know a lot of teens come into the library without a parent or caregiver; allowing them to receive their own card by their own means would really encourage them to continue using the library.
Another idea from this session that was useful was the idea of praising the teens publicly within the library. Holding a bookmark contest, where the winner’s bookmark is professionally printed is a relatively cheap and easy way to highlight a teen and their artistic ability. Teen artists of the month and their artwork were also displayed within the teen section of the library. Making just one teen feel special and welcomed could make a huge difference in that teen’s life.
Other smaller scale ways to let teens know that the library is there for them and their interests include putting up a job board with available jobs just for teens and setting up space for a “free library,” which could just be a box of deleted library books for teens to take and not have to return.
Building Their Own World: Teen Driven Community Engagement
Presented by Izabel Gronski and Regina Townsend
This session reinforced the idea that my library is on the right track with teen programming. My Teen Advisory Board has morphed into a service oriented group like the Teen Advisory Board mentioned in the session and a lot of the ideas were similar to what we am doing now, but were further expanded upon which was helpful.
One idea I liked for my own Teen Advisory Board was designating a teen as the “Program Manager.” That teen then becomes the “go to” person for that program, instead of the Teen Advisory Board president or me. It also gives other teens a chance to take on a temporary leadership role within the group.
The definition of success that Izabel and Regina provided was forward thinking and I believe more accurate than the traditional success of counting the number of teens attending programs. According to them, a successful library program is more about the experience of that teen, the library meeting that teen in their world, and the library providing that teen with a service they may not have encountered otherwise.
These following sessions I attended also had some great ideas and thoughts for librarians…
Empowering Teens with Books that Reflect their World
Presented by publisher representatives from Source Books and Cinco Puntos Press
Make sure to include diverse materials in your collection. Different types of materials ensure that you are providing information and reading experiences relatable to all types of teens.
Avengers Assemble! Establishing and Expanding Community Connections for School and Public Libraries
Presented by Katie LaMantia, Evan Mather, Renee Neumeier, and Tyler Works
One way to network with librarians in the county or school district is to create a book club just for the youth librarians. Collaboration and working together with high school librarians, Parks and Recreation Departments, and community groups can help the library and the community group out!
Makerboxes: Maker Programs in a Box
Presented by Melendra Sutliff Sanders
Inside each Makerbox are library books and a binder with ideas for the materials in your Makerbox. While most of these boxes are too expensive for our library to make and keep supplied, the photo booth box could be doable by many. Include fiction books that somehow relate to photography and “how to” photography books. Additionally include homemade props, simple backgrounds, and maybe a small photo printer.
Rethinking School Outreach
Presented by Amie Wright, Amy Mikel, Elizabeth Devora, and Christine Poser
New York City Public Library has an extremely organized and beneficial outreach program, with seven full time outreach librarians. Schools that participate in the School Outreach program get free access to resource teacher sets, books, and digital resources. Children in schools that participate receive no fines on overdue books, extended borrowing periods on books, school delivery, and pick up.