Leadership and Teen Services

Many libraries promote teen services, especially Teen Advisory Council positions, as leadership opportunities—great for college applications! Participating teens provide input on program planning, teen spaces, collection development, and more. In some cases, they make decisions about programming and marketing, and are responsible for much of the implementation. These are great leadership experiences for teens. However, we rarely talk about the leadership skill the librarians need to successfully organize and facilitate this work with teens.

Mark Richardson, in his article Stepping Up: Applying Situational Leadership Concepts to Public Library Work With Teens, describes how librarians can use Situational Leadership to implement effective teen leadership opportunities. Situational Leadership includes four styles of leadership: directing, coaching, supporting, and delegating. Effective leaders utilize all four styles, and know when to use which style depending on the task or situation.

As you read the following description of each style, think about when you might use that style with teens and why. What you might do to implement each style? What do you hope teens gain from experiencing each style as you implement it?

  • “Directing, is used whenever one trains a new person or teaches a new skill.”
  • “Coaching… is still directive, but more time is given to explaining our goals and why we have them. Input is requested and integrated into plans when possible.”
  • “Supporting… [is] trying to get the teens to make decisions on their own without as much help.”
  • When “delegating, people are empowered to act independently with less input from the leader.”

Read Stepping Up: Applying Situational Leadership Concepts to Public Library Work With Teens for more information about Situational Leadership and examples of how Mark has and plans to apply Situational Leadership to teen services at Cedar Mill Community Library.

Career Programming

careerprogrammingfortodaysteens

More and more libraries are implementing programs that support teens transitioning from high school to college, careers, and independent living. You have probably heard about or even implemented adulting 101 programs, college test prep classes, and volunteer programs designed more like jobs for which teens have to apply and interview. Have you considered focusing on nontraditional and vocational (trade school) alternatives?

Four year colleges and universities are too expensive for many teens and increasingly competitive to get into. Fewer people are going into trades that require mid-level skills while opportunities in these fields are growing. Many of these careers pay better than those only require a high school diploma, and some of them pay really well.

You can learn more about these trends and relevant library program ideas in Career Programming for Today’s Teens: Exploring Nontraditional and Vocational Alternatives by Amy Wyckoff and Marie Harris. To get you started, I recommend the following online resources:

What is Beaverton City Library doing for teens? By Ian Duncanson

BeavertonCityLibrary

Beaverton City Library is currently looking into the possibility of putting together a spring Teen Job Fair in conjunction with Worksource Oregon and a representative from the Oregon State University Extension Service. We last offered job fairs for teens around 2009 and 2010 and have been eager to bring them back for a number of years. I’m aiming to structure the fair like our big annual Family Resource Fair with potential employers tabling rather than community organizations.

We had a fantastic response when we did this program in the past. We have had requests for this off and on. We have had good luck with other college and job prep events for teens and are hoping for the same with this event.

[Here are some tips for other libraries who want to try a Teen Job Fair]

  1. A community partner (or partners) is essential, especially when it comes to contacting potential employers who might want to table at your event.
  2. Start planning EARLY, 5-6 months in advance and before you do any advertising or announcements.
  3. Create a streamlined application form that potential employers will fill out to apply for a table. This will help make the even seem more official and cement commitments to participate more than simple email or oral community will. I am happy to share a draft of the form we’re using if you would like to adapt it.
  4. Create a small brochure/map of the room for attendees showing them where all of the tables are.

[In the past, attendance has been] pretty good, but we could always do better! As I mentioned before, we have had good luck with college prep and practice tests. All of the summer and spring break programs have our best attendance. During the school year I focus on my Teen Library Council and events with them, two writing contests (we generally get 150-250 entries for these), and our big annual Teen Art Show which draws between 500 and 700.

Getting the word out is always a challenge, as is keeping up with fast-moving trends and devising new programs that will draw a crown. I’m fortunate to be at a library that is so supportive of services for teens!

Written by Ian Duncanson

 

Beaverton City Library’s 2016-2017 statistics from the State Library of Oregon:

  • County: Washington
  • Population: 141,671
  • Registered borrowers: 63,722
  • Total library visits: 821,233
  • Total library hours in a typical week: 63
  • Total paid staff: 68.35

Learn more about Beaverton City Library via their website and facebook page.

Want to share what your library is doing for teens? Contact Katie Anderson.

 

 

What is Klamath County Library doing for teens? By Stephanie Goodwin

In recent years, the Klamath County Library has struggled with getting teens involved.  It’s not unusual for us to get 20 or more teens in the library after school, but they are not interested in taking part in any activity we plan even when it’s something they suggest we do.  About 2 years ago I read about the Breakout EDU escape the room kit and thought this would be a fun addition to our library so ordered one.  It didn’t take long for my staff to begin writing their own mysteries and doing special after hours dinner for our teens.  The teens have to pre-register and we limit our participation to 10-15 teens.  They are encouraged to dress up either as a specific character, in a certain time period, or just in their fanciest.  For those who don’t come dressed up we have a box of random items they can use.  Our mysteries have been everything from vampires, to Dr. Diabolical infecting the world, and everything in between.

We have had a great response to this program from our teens.  Often they request we do it every Friday night instead of the monthly/bimonthly schedule we are currently following.  Some of our teens are very creative and come dressed up and others just come for the pizza.  In the end, they are learning how to work in a team (often unsuccessfully), use the library, and tune their critical thinking skills.

A few things we have learned from doing these programs is

  1. A smaller group is better
  2. Have 1 library staff member who is a lifeline to help teens solve the puzzles. Typically teens can ask 3 questions.
  3. Teens do not always catch on as fast as we think they should. The first few we did were way too hard.  We have had to make the puzzles easier.

Written by Stephanie Goodwin

 

Klamath County Library’s 2016-2017 statistics from the State Library of Oregon:

  • County: Klamath
  • Population: 67,410
  • Registered borrowers: 38,617
  • Total library visits: 315,231
  • Total library hours in a typical week: 52
  • Total paid staff: 33.36

Learn more about Klamath County Library via their website and facebook page.

Want to share what your library is doing for teens? Contact Katie Anderson.

 

 

What is Creswell Library doing for teens? By Nick Caum

CreswellLibrary

Two Fridays a month teens gather in our little library to play Dungeons and Dragons. We call our program Teen Tabletop. While this may seem like a complete waste of time to many, the program is actually wonderful at developing four key skills identified by the Partnership for 21st Century Learning. Those skills are collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking, also referred to as the 4CS. Perhaps the biggest gain for me is the face to face interaction that the game requires.

Teens have responded by spending a ton of time in the library. Seriously, they are here using our books and chatting about their D&D grams. We’ve also had a lot of new teens join the library community using the D&D program as their gateway which is reflected across the board in teen programming attendance. The program has also facilitated the development of lasting relationships between library staff running the program and the teens participating. The popularity of the program has increased dramatically, when we first started we had six teens attending, we now consistently have 20+ teens at each event.

5 tips and lessons learned:

  1. Know what you are doing. Don’t try to fake it, play the game first or find someone in your community who will help facilitate the program. There may even be a teen or two who can help out!
  2. Make the teens stick to the rule book. At least while they learn to play, then let them do whatever they want.
  3. Play with the teens. This is a wonderful way to develop lasting relationships.
  4. Pencils. Get those things on Subscribe and Save because they are going to disappear like ice on a hot day. It isn’t anyone’s fault, it just happens.
  5. Let them be silly. This is a great chance for teens to be silly and creative and themselves. This is the chance they have to do all the things that race through their minds through the school week that they know they shouldn’t do.

Written by Nick Caum

 

Creswell Library’s (Lane Library District) 2016-2017 statistics from the State Library of Oregon:

  • County: Lane
  • Population: 8,434
  • Registered borrowers: 2,781
  • Total library visits: 84,601
  • Total library hours in a typical week: 45
  • Total paid staff: 3.70

Learn more about Creswell Library via their website and facebook page.

Want to share what your library is doing for teens? Contact Katie Anderson.

 

Superpower Girls

Superpower Girls: Female Representation in the Sci-fi/Superhero Genre

A study by Women’s Media Center and BBC, October 2018

SuperheroStudy

Key take-aways:

  • “Every demographic group we spoke to expressed a strong desire for more female superheroes…”
  • “Female sci-fi/superheroes are more impactful sources of inspiration for girls than male heroes are for boys, empowering girls—and especially girls of color—to believe they can achieve anything they put their mind to.”
  • “Teen girls are significantly less likely than teen boys to describe themselves as confident, brave, and heard. And these challenges are even more pronounced for girls of color.”
  • “Despite notable campaigns to boost women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), we still see a 23-point gender gap between teen boys and girls with regards to interest in STEM careers.”
  • “1 in 3 teens [including boys] agree that girls have fewer opportunities than boys to be leaders.”
  • “If you can’t see her, you can’t be her,” BBC America President Sarah Barnett

Library considerations:

  • How many sci-fi/superhero movies for teens does my library show featuring strong female leads?
  • How many strong female leads does my library emphasize when we have sci-fi/superhero fandom events?
  • Looking at displays of TV and movies for teens in my library and at my library’s online presence, how many items feature a strong female lead?
  • What percentage of my library’s teen advisory council (or similar) are girls? Is this representative of the percentage of regulars who are teen girls?
  • Looking at the leadership opportunities my library offers teens, what percentage are offered to teen girls? Is this representative of the percentage of regulars who are teen girls?

What is Newport Public Library doing for teens? By Stacy Johns

NewportPublicLibraryTeenRoom1

Newport Public Library created a new Teen Room in 2016 when our director and supervisor kindly surrendered their office space. It compressed the staff, but made a huge improvement for teens, who had previously had only a corner of the main fiction area with limited shelving and no “hang out” area. The Teen Room is relatively small, probably 30′ X 15′, but it has a door that closes, a Playstation, a whiteboard, a Teen Art Display, and a genrified collection with a large area for graphics.

We went from  having no regulars, to having a dozen to sixteen or so kids, probably 75% boys, coming to hang out after school each day, with new kids popping in regularly as well. Our circulation numbers jumped at first, but have leveled out. It’s a safe and parent-friendly place for kids to plan to go meet their friends after school, and it’s popularity highlights that there’s more of a need for this in our community than we can provide for! The kids are required to interact with library staff and security guards, and some of our long-timers have definitely showed improvement over time in understanding how to share a public space and how to communicate with adults.

NewportPublicLibraryTeenRoom2

We’re learned a lot from our experience, and consider it a success, but noise and rambunctiousness have been an issue with the staff overall, as the room is poorly insulated and right next to the staff work area. We tried to find attractive, teen friendly furniture, but have found that kids are rougher on it than we expected–they want to sit on the edges of tables, and move the cafe stools up and down so that the metal supports bend and fiberglass pieces snap. We’re starting to consider switching to indestructible vinyl couches and a low, solid coffee table. The paw and hand chairs and the vinyl hassock pieces have help well, though. The cameras are indispensable–sadly, we’ve had a couple serious behavioral issues where reconstruction of events was key.

Written by Stacy Johns

 

Newport Public Library’s 2016-2017 statistics from the State Library of Oregon:

  • County: Lincoln
  • Population: 17,254
  • Registered borrowers: 12,173
  • Total library visits: 160,390
  • Total library hours in a typical week: 62
  • Total paid staff: 11.9

Learn more about Newport Public Library via their website and facebook page.

Want to share what your library is doing for teens? Contact Katie Anderson.