|Youth Services: Programming for one age group, Collection Development, Working only 40 hours per week|
After three years, I may have just had my first entirely successful teen program. No spin, no excuses, just 100% success. It feels really nice. Not sure if it's a trend, or something I can replicate but I'm sure going to try.
I've been part of ground-up successful teen programming before. I did an internship with a branch of a large suburban MN library while I was in library school. A classmate of mine (she worked there) and I created teen programming there for the first time, and it was very successful. We were reaching teen library users. They were regularly coming to library events and bringing new people to the library. We developed relationships with our population and turned a possibly disruptive element into library advocates. Soon after, the system hired a dedicated Teen Librarian and it has been interesting to watch the progression and success of teen programming in that system.
My current position serves ages 0-18, and frankly, I think that's a nigh-impossible task. My personal belief is that truly successful teen programming requires--REQUIRES--a dedicated, location-specific, teen liaison.
What is successful teen programming? I consider successful teen programming to be that which reaches a consistent, dedicated group of teens--especially those who are already library-users, and turns them into library advocates. It is not just one-off events that attract a bunch of kids who will never set foot in the library until the next big sexy event you throw (not that those events are wrong, but I don't consider a series of one-offs to be successful teen programming--you follow?). If you only consider attendance you may have the appearance of successful teen programming, but I bet for every 'successful' event there are at least as many flops/no-show events. I think this is why bigger libraries often seem to have more successful teen programs--a larger pool of teens to draw from means more attendance. But is it really successful teen programming?
Teens are so relational, you really need a LOT of time to build those relationships. Those of us in smaller libraries who wear many hats struggle to find that time. It's not impossible to do, but I think administrators and the public need more appreciation for the time and dedication needed for teen programming in general.
In part 2 I'll talk more specifically about last week's program and what's working/what hasn't worked here.
I hadn't thought about a dedicated group of teens as "library advocates"-- but that's exactly what they should be! That's definitely different than what I see as a success for elementary programs: a wide range of kids who then stick around, increasing check out and becoming library users themselves. Advocacy, though, seems like the next likely step once they are old enough!ReplyDelete
I think another part of the difference is that many teens are able to start coming to the library independently/choosing how to spend their time. If they're choosing the library, then they can start encouraging their peers to do the same.Delete
This just nails it in the head why I've had a struggle building teen program at my new library. I wear so many hats like you, doing 0-18 that I can't focus all my time on teen events and that key building relations factor which is so, so important and which I did way more in my previous job. I'm going to introduce some teen programs this summer and I'm hoping it will start to create those advocates who yeah, may have used the library before, but were never truly part of the relationship the library has with the public.ReplyDelete
I gave up on teen programs starting this year - I hate that we don't serve this population but nothing I've tried works and I just don't have the time to build relationships with a group of teens. Not to mention our staff spends a lot of time yelling at/kicking out/complaining about the 30 or so tweens and teens who hang out at the library every day and I have NO IDEA how to deal with this issue. So, the teens are getting a low-key summer reading program (20 of the 40 kids who signed up participated last year) a girls' night out/body art program (I got 20 to attend that last year) and if enough people sign up I'll do a wii tournament/pizza party. That's it for the entire year. I'm hoping you have suggestions for this in your next post...nothing I've tried works.ReplyDelete