If you’ve worked with young people for just about any length of time, a teenager has likely shared something painful with you and you may have felt momentarily powerless to help them. I experienced a moment like that on an afternoon when I heard a small group of young teens in my library branch discussing police brutality. I sat down with the teens that day and I listened. They were furious, frustrated, and sad. Absorbing their words and their feelings, I felt those same emotions. I also felt helpless. Their pain was so large and I felt so small in that moment.
Posts Tagged ‘service to teens’
Jenny Adams Perinovic is taking public library outreach services to another level at the Free Library of Philadelphia.
Public library policy in the United States is largely localized, with each of more than nine thousand public libraries and public library systems setting their own operational and service policies. Still, public libraries across the country operate in many of the same ways, and US public library services for teens exhibit many shared practices and emerging service trends. In thinking about the future of US public library services to teens, it is helpful first to consider the historic ways in which public libraries have served their communities.
Working with teens in a public library is one big great adventure! There are the fun moments when teens from different schools become friends, the I-am-a-super-librarian moments of finding a teen the perfect book at just the right time, and the tough times when we know that a teen is not thriving because of a lack of resources, an identity crisis, or relationship issues. When these tough topics arise, public library staff are often not equipped to deal with them. Although teens may not want to talk to adults, they do want to learn.
At fifteen, Emily Ellis didn’t see working in a library as a career but rather a better option than flipping burgers. As time went on, however, her opinions on librarianship changed, and she pursued her MLS, eventually landing a job as a high school media center assistant, where she discovered her passion for working with teens. Ellis became the “teen whisperer,” making connections with the students who stopped by her office when visiting the media center. Her talents didn’t go unnoticed, and Library Journal named her Mover & Shaker in 2012 for her work with teens.
Teens at the Long Island Uniondale library create music together and discover that the public library is a great place to hang out.
The teenage years are not easy for anyone, but for many LGBT teens, the struggle to understand themselves and find acceptance from their peers and community can be even more difficult. The public library can be a wonderful resource for LGBT teens looking for answers or for those just needing a safe, welcoming space to gather with friends. If you want to begin to make a connection with your LGBT teen patrons, there are a few easy steps you can take to get started improving service to this often underserved community.
As you look around libraryland, you’ll see quite a bit about 21st century libraries, services, and 21st century literacies. In 2014, after a yearlong forum, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) released the report, The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action, which specifically addresses 21st century teens and their needs.
May I suggest that the library is an ecotone? We are the space between work and home. We are the space between childhood and adulthood. We are the space between illiteracy and literacy. We are the space between unemployed and employed. We are the space between bullying at school and abuse at home. In the library ecotone life bursts forth; life that could only have begun in our space.
Since libraries are organizations that promote information access and cultural discourse, #hackgirlsrights is an inspiration for libraries that want to incorporate relevant social issues or topics by hosting a hacker night with an aim toward an achievable goal or project.
According to a report published by the Schott Foundation, the national African American male high school graduation rate is 52 percent compared to 78 percent for white males and 58 percent for Hispanic males. In addition, many urban environments have suffered a transition in their economies due to globalization. Many manufacturing companies have relocated to rural and foreign countries where labor costs are much lower. The collapse of the industrial infrastructure in inner cities has had a devastating impact on black males living in urban communities. Consequently, many inner city residents have increased hardships due to instability in employment, which adversely affects the black community. Research suggests that urban teens who are engaged with positive activities such as mentoring and who receive social support from family, school, and community are more likely to avoid juvenile delinquency, especially if they are from low socioeconomic communities. Public libraries can counter the negative social problems associated with urban youth, and with males in particular, by offering an environment that is safe, nurturing, and that provides positive exposure to “experiences, upbringings and literacies of urban youth.” Libraries can play an important role in countering the many challenges poor urban youth have to overcome to have the best opportunity to succeed in life.
Public libraries offer more job prep to teens
Remember the last time you helped a teen with a book report on a classic? You could tell just by looking at her that she was not looking forward to it. Well, many resources exist to help teens understand books and write literature criticism. One of my favorite free websites is Shmoop.com.