Where To? Venues for Teen Outreach

22 Jul

Outreach is any activity that involves going out into the community and promoting library services to reluctant, underserved, and/or non-library users. There are three questions to consider when considering doing outreach to teens: why, how and where? The first question usually concerns staff hours, and presentation of the library. The second addresses the actual location of teens.

Decide the purpose of your outreach
The purpose of your outreach to teens may vary depending on the venue and target audience. Are you out in the community to raise your library’s profile? Maybe you’re there to start a base of teen volunteers and will recruit any teen who will have you. Perhaps your goal is to make the library accessible to an underserved group of young people. Or maybe you’re trying to gather new ideas from teens who don’t usually use the library in order to figure out how to better promote the service to them. Your outreach may be very formal (teaching young people how to use library search databases) or casual (handing out joining packs and running craft activities at a local festival). Regardless, it’s important to know the aim and target demographic for each outreach visit that you make.

What is your local teen demographic like?
This really varies from area to area. The teens in your area could be working class, cosmopolitan, shy, privileged, geeky, suburban, deprived, depraved (hah!), or all of the above! The most important thing is working out where the teens are, promoting the library to them, and getting feedback on the type of library service they want and need.

How to find venues for teen outreach
Some venues (schools and colleges) are quite easy to find contact information for via phone books, the Internet, or your local council. Others–such as small youth clubs or teen-run groups–can be difficult to find, let along get contact information for.

Your local council is a great place to start. ACS (Adult and Community Services), or similar departments should have lists of organisations and resources for young people in need. Many youth organisations can be found by asking around at colleges. The local YMCA usually has a youth center and is a great place to start, and the local Youth Council usually knows of quite a few organisations for young people. Try checking with your local vinspired and/or local volunteering agency–they usually know quite a bit about youth activity in the surrounding area. Connexions is also a great local resources; Connexions employees often run or know of local youth programs.

List of potential outreach venues
* schools and colleges (esp. via library)
* youth centers
* local sports clubs
* NEET Centers (NEET stands for “Not in Education, Employment or Training”)
* Youth Councils
* school and college after-school clubs
* community festivals (these are a great place to meet lots of teens without spending much money or outlaying too many staff hours)
* homeless shelters and services
* groups for carers and looked-after children
* religious organisations such as local church, synagogue, and mosque groups
* local ethnic organisations or local chapters of national organisations (ex. Polish Cultural Institute)
* GBLT organisations for teens
* On the street (yes, really!). Last year a UK library created a portable library and took to their local high street to get new members signed up. Taking your innovative teen programs into the public sphere isn’t such a bad idea–one of the members of the teen advisory group at my library even volunteered to walk around with a sandwich board on to promote library activities for teens!

Do you know of any other good venues for teen outreach? Comment at the bottom of this post, email your thoughts to yalibraryuk@gmail.com or tweet them @yalibraryuk. I’m especially interested in ideas for reaching older teens in part- or full-time employment and making the library service more accessible to them.

I’ll be updating these lists periodically and, as always, will credit you for any suggestions you make!

See the follow-up post full of ideas about what to say and do when you talk to groups of teens in your community.


4 Responses to “Where To? Venues for Teen Outreach”


  1. Getting Started with Teen Outreach « YA Library UK - July 23, 2010

    […] The answer to that question varies widely depending on the intended audience and venue of your presentation. In fact, there are so many different situations and ways to go about promoting your library service to teens that it would be impossible to cover them all in one short post. YA Library UK will revisit the topic frequently. For now, here are a few ideas to help you get started (or, if you’re not sure where to find teen groups to speak to, check out Where to Do Outreach for Teen Library Services): […]

  2. Compelling Competitions for Teens in Your Library « YA Library UK - August 16, 2010

    […] organisations for young people will also allow you to reach a large number of young people. (See Where To? Venues for Teen Outreach for more […]

  3. Библиотеки и молодёжь » Где найти новых пользователей? - May 23, 2011

    […] yalibraryuk.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/where-to-do-outreach-for-teen-library-services […]

  4. On a Shoestring: Teen Volunteers and Your Library « YA Library UK - April 19, 2012

    […] engaging in outreach (at schools, youth clubs, &c.) be certain to give a good “elevator talk” […]

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