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On a Shoestring: Teen Volunteers and Your Library

19 Apr

A volunteer programme can bolster your teen offer, but the process of establishing volunteering hours. Here are some tips that will help you set up a volunteer service for young people and decide what type of volunteering is appropriate, and how to manage it.

What type of volunteer work should my library offer to young people?

Teens may receive volunteer hours a wide variety of activities. You could also establish a programme in which teens work with children (mentoring, reading, etc.) or the elderly. Young people may also receive volunteer hours from participating in a reading group, Teen Advisory Group, or other youth-related library project. Contact your local youth volunteering representative (probably someone from vinvolved) to find out more.

Some activities you could do with pre-existing teen groups: a reading group could write reviews and post online, and/or help come up with new ideas for displays, and/or plan reading-related events for children. A teen writing group could publish their work, or write stories for local children; an art group could illustrate library materials.

What are the benefits of teen volunteering?

Benefits to the library may include input and help with teen and other events, teen leadership (which means supporting projects rather than always leading them), building a positive profile with local young people, greater role in the local community, building a better offer for young people and, importantly, creating positive associations with the library, reading, and information.

Benefits to teens include a voice and greater investment in their local community and library, new experience/skills to add to their CV and university applications, positive adult mentors (librarians!), and positive attention and encouragement for skills and input.

How do I make a volunteer programme official?

Coordinate with a local volunteer group like vinspired who can give teens certificates and other vetted rewards for their hours. Contact a local representative and request information on their volunteering requirements, such as the minimum age to volunteer, and what types of roles are suitable or unsuitable for young people.

Once you have established the rules of the volunteer programme, collaborate with colleagues and local teens to come up with list of duties, responsibilities, rules. It’s especially useful to consider specific skills that your library’s volunteer programme can offer to young people. Will they improve their writing or speaking skills? Perhaps they will learn to lead projects and make important decisions. Or they will make use of communication or teaching skills.

How do I register teen volunteers and keep track of logged hours?

The teens will usually need to fill in a registration sheet. Once they have filled this out, you should create a sheet with their name that goes into a binder in which you record individual teen volunteer hours (and a brief list of activities done – two or three words should usually cover it). When teens reach certain landmarks (20 hours, 50 hours – these depend your local volunteer organisation), send a copy the teens’ volunteer hours sheet and obtain a certificate to award to teens for their service.

Remind teens that skills they’ve learned can go on their CVs and possibly in applications for uni (have a list ready is they’re not sure how to phrase them). For example, helping to plan a local event or applying for a grant for a teen-led projects both yield desirable skills.

How do I interest young people in volunteering?

I don’t have a magic bullet to recommend. The best way to get teens involved is to appeal to a few who are interested in the activity and then make the volunteer experience rewarding enough to keep the young people coming back.

Speak to young people who already use your library service and/or attend teen library groups about volunteering. They are a built in “user group” and some of them are likely to be keen.

Make local volunteer coordinators aware of your most interesting/enriching programmes. When they council young people on finding volunteer work, they will also recommend yours.

Put up posters in the library, in schools and at youth centers. List your volunteer opportunity on local websites and, if appropriate, in local magazines or papers.

Whenever engaging in outreach (at schools, youth clubs, etc.) be certain to give a good “elevator talk” about the library’s volunteer opportunities.

How do I keep volunteers coming back?

If you can, hold “thank you” parties once or twice yearly. Rewards like this make teens feel special and appreciated and keep them invested. They ARE doing a great service for your library. Say thanks.

Consider other rewards that be appropriate to the volunteer activity. At the library where I used to work (I miss you, Southend!) the teen reading group used to go on yearly “book buys” to London. It was a fun day, and the books they selected were allocated a special space in the library. (Aside: this collection always circulated brilliantly.)

As you get to know some of the young people involved, you will also build a positive relationship with them. You may feel comfortable offering to write job recommendations or helping them in similarly appropriate ways.

A few important notes:

Running a volunteer programme is not a quick fix to short staffing or other issues. Volunteer programmes require time and energy to establish and maintain!

Due to health and safety regulations, library staff members need to be present when volunteers are working. Libraries cannot hold events that are volunteer run.

Although it’s not necessary, I highly recommend that you a course about managing volunteering programmes.

On a Shoestring: Reaching Teens in a Few Hours Every Week (or) How to Use Time Effectively When You Don’t Have Any

2 Apr


Quality over Quantity

Recently a commenter mentioned that time is their main challenge to delivering excellent teen service. This is true for many librarians in a variety of sectors, especially in the era of budget cuts (speak up and save libraries!). While you may be aware of external sources of money for libraries and teen projects, it’s difficult to use that money to positive effect without a little time to do it.

Spend time near the teen books

The first place to do outreach is in your own library! Don’t hover or make up jobs, but do appear sometimes and chat to teens whenever you’re looking over books for ideas of what to order next, editing the collection, or putting up posters or displays or signs or leaflets in the teen area. Ask if there are any books they’d like you to order, or if they can think of any events or improvements to the library. Obviously you can’t do everything that’s asked of you, and it’s important to make that clear. But it’s also important to get feedback from young people currently using your service. At least a few of them will have passionate opinions, and be interested in becoming more involved with library offerings.

Dedicate a few hours to outreach

It can even be an hour a month of outreach, to start. Visit a school or a youth club. If you have teen events, prepare some activities or a quick presentation on those. If you don’t, or if you’d rather do something related to your materials, why not try a book talk?

If you go into one school every month that schools are in session, you could easily reach a few hundred young people every year. You’ll also become a friendly face for young people who feel nervous or unwelcome in the library. Young people are far more likely to use the library if they know there is a staff person who is kind, patient, and interested in listening to them.

Work in partnership

One meeting can save ten hours. If you have few or no outreach hours, meeting with someone who can reach the teens you want to work with can be a huge time saver. Your local council will have a department dedicated to all variety of youth services, including local youth clubs, at-risk teens and young offenders, NEETs (young people not in employment or work), and others who can use your service – but may not.

Introduce yourself to youth workers in the council. Tell them a little about your current services for teens, or what you’d like to offer. Ask them about programmes they think youth would like to see, and the best ways to reach local young people. Most youth workers who I have met are interested in getting teens more involved with libraries and reading.

Quality over quantity

It’s better to run, say, one really fun event every two months than to run an poorly planned event every week. It’s also a good way to gauge interest in recurrent activities or groups and make a case for them. Put your energy into a few really good projects, rather than trying to reach every teen all the time.

Support teens in running their own projects and create teen volunteer positions

This tactic requires you to spend time in order to save it. Teens do need some guidance for self-led projects and volunteering, but they can also help run events that you would never be able to put on without their ideas and investment. Read Teen Volunteers and Your Library for more information.

Apply for money for staff training

A little goes a long way. Many staff members are frightened of teens or feel “out of their depth.” Even a few hours of staff training (you can apply for money to fund this via your local branch of CILIP. Some, like East of England, accept applications from local libraries even if the applicants are not current CILIP members. Various Youth Libraries Group branches offers bursaries for conferences and other professional development projects.

Keep records of everything

Nothing is more frustrating than hunting around for that sheet of great book talk ideas, or trying to remember how many hours your teen volunteers have amassed. Don’t forget to keep records, even if they’re brief!

Know a brilliant timesaving technique? Comment or tweet it @yalibraryuk.

Helping Teens Lead and Fund Library Projects

13 Feb

Money is in short supply these days. However, teens with a great idea for improvements or events that take place in or related to the library can still apply for money. You can find a list of current sources of funding here. Starbucks Youth Action is offering funding for young people right now. Applications due by 9 AM on 5 March 2012.

If you already work with a small group of teens (a reading group, Teen Advisory Group, or just a bunch of library regulars you’ve gotten to know), you may notice that they have ideas for improving the library. This type of event would be great if it ever happened, they say. That collection of books is deficient, they claim. In many cases you may not have the time, budget, or supporting staff to execute their ideas, even if you know the ideas are strong. The good news is that in many cases, you can help young people implement these ideas themselves. By providing guidance and appropriate advice, you can assist them in creating the teen library service they want to see.

Even in the current economic climate, there is some funding is available to young people leading projects in their local area. The primary criteria of these projects is usually that they be teen-generated and teen-led. Many of them (like 02 Think Big) also expect there to be adult supporters involved. That’s your role! You can also help teens structure and articulate ideas, and assist them by helping them break intimidating aspects of projects or applications into manageable tasks. You’ll act as their supporter: librarian and cheerleader rolled into one.

Premise: The teens you work with have a great idea! They want to host a manga day, or to start a volunteer programme to help younger readers, or to improve the teen space, or something probably much clever than anything I’ve come up with. Now what?

Break the process into five steps:

Get Permission
Choose Funding Source
Be Realistic and Optimistic
Fill Out the Application

Get Permission

If you need permission for some portion of the project, ensure that you have it. If teens obtain funding to revamp the teen area but your supervisors aren’t keen, that money may never go to fund a great project. “We’ll fund it ourselves!” usually makes a winning argument.

Brainstorm and Choose a Funding Source to Apply To

Take a look at the various funding pots. Is the proposed project a £300, £3000, or £30,000 project? The easiest way to establish this is to guide them through the particulars. This is an area where you’ll definitely be of help, as you most likely have more experience articulating the finer points of a project and drafting budgets. Help them turn general assertions (“we want it to be awesome”) into specifics (“we want a new set of awesome books that cost £200”) through brainstorming.

Be Realistic and Optimistic

Next, take a look at the applications. Maybe the £30,000 project is amazing, but given the needs of the application (that a certain amount of hours be dedicated, for example, or that other funding be secured), the £300 grant is the best to start with. (Again, you can help by demonstrating how the project can be broken into meaningful chunks.)

Complete that Pesky Application Form

Young people need to be able to articulate the following (not necessarily in order of importance!): 1) why the project is important to them; 2) how it will benefit them and others (in the community); 3) how they will deliver the project; 4) what they’ll deliver, when they’ll deliver it by, and how much it costs. The last issue (what/when/cost) doesn’t have to be exact, but it does need to demonstrate some concrete pre-planning. Other considerations – depending on size and scope of the project – might include how they will consult their peers/those benefiting from the project, and how they will evaluate the project.

Your role here is to guide, not to dictate. Allow them to write the proposal. You can help by offering structural hints when they get stuck, editing, and finding helpful reference materials (this last one is especially handy when compiling a rough budget or helping them locate local demographic information). You liaise with staff and supervisors; young people commit their time to the project.

Young people will benefit from the project itself, which will not only empower them but will also boost their CV. I also recommend that you offer volunteer hours (there will be a post about this soon) and recommendation letters to young people who become regularly involved in these types of projects.

The benefit to the library is tremendous: young people will know – or find out – how to reach and benefit other young people in the area. Their projects will help the library build rapport with local teens and the broader community. It also helps support projects that the library wants to develop but couldn’t otherwise fund.

Maybe you’re reading this and thinking, “But the teens in my library aren’t proactive.” Many young people aren’t used to feeling empowered to enact change in their communities. Engage them in a dialogue about improvements they’d like to see in the community. Take their ideas and concerns with respect. Let them know that there are funds (and adults!) who can assist them in achieving these goal. (Of course, you don’t have to embrace every project idea with open arms; “swimming pool in the library” is a good part of a healthy brainstorming session but should probably never grow beyond a daydream. That said, if you do end up building a swimming pool in your library, please tell me, because I’d love to have a swim surrounded by books.)

If you’re reading this and thinking, “great, but I don’t already know the teens in my library,” start reaching out to those already using your service. Introduce yourself, host an event, or reach out to teens in the community. For those who are feelings daunted based on time constraints, look out for an upcoming post about reaching teens in just a few hours every week.

Hark! A Noise!: A Guide for Dealing with Disruptive Teens in Your Library

24 Oct

Some time ago I received some requests for a guide to dealing with disruptive teens in the library. After some thought I’ve developed this guide to assist those who want to use effective strategies for dealing with disruptive teens. There will also be a second part with recommendations for dealing with particularly egregious teen behaviour.

1. Set clear, reasonable rules, and be ready to justify them.
By clear rules I mean that rules should be both simply-worded and regularly/fairly applied. A rule that’s rarely enforced is hardly a rule at all, and seems especially unfair if the rule is occasionally (but not consistently) invoked.

Teens may not always remember the rules, so they do sometime need reminders. Not all teens know or remember to follow what may seem like implicit or obvious guidelines to librarians. Young people are not just testing boundaries, but are still in the process of discovering the parameters of general social contracts and conduct, and deciding which of these to follow and which to object to or resist.

Some teens need to understand the reason behind rules before they can so that they can decide the validity of that rule for themselves. While this can be frustrating in the moment, it’s a positive sign of critical thinking. Teens are usually more likely to follow rules if they understand and agree with them, or if they realise that the impetus behind basic rules (e.g. noise level modulation) is based on respect for others in a shared space.

Teens won’t always obey 100%, but most teens will respect community space and others trying to use it.

2. Signpost the rules!
If young people know and can see what the rules are, they will curb one another’s behaviour. It’s much easier for young people to remember the rules – and point them out to friends – if those rules are clearly posted.

3. Carry a sense of humour with you at all times.
Remember those signs I mentioned above? They may be defaced with “hilarious” words like “POO.” (I bet a few of think that’s funny. If my friend/former colleague Toby is reading this, he definitely had a little giggle over it.) It’s easy to feel frustrated – and it’s okay to have moments of anger and discouragement. But it helps to remember that these things are boundary-testing, pranks, and general silliness. If you maintain a sense of humour, it will help you keep your frustration in check (not to mention help you appreciate the teens around you more!).

It’s also useful to remember what you were like when you were a teen. I know that I was definitely told off more than once for rambunctious behaviour!

You don’t need to find someone writing “poo” funny, but it will help if you’re able to smile or laugh at some of the things teens get up to.

4. Be firm.
This one is simple to write but difficult to do: be firm and fair in the way you enforce rules. Speak directly and firmly (but not harshly) to teens who are flagrantly breaking rules. Speaking directly to the individual (or, occasionally, group), works much better than glaring or shushing. It can also start a dialogue about why certain rules are in place (and even whether they should be!).

Getting the firm-but-not-harsh tone down becomes easier with practice.

5. Separate the teen from their behaviour.
No one likes being told that they’re bad. Make it clear that you’re not making a judgement on the teen; you are simply addressing a behaviour that is not suitable for the library setting. Separating the teen from their behaviour takes a lot of sting out of a rebuke and is more likely to garner a positive response. (Thanks to Anne Harding for this phrasing.)

6. Accept occasional personality clashes.
Every now and then there will be a teen who just rubs you the wrong way, or who winds you up. Or they take a dislike to you, and you don’t know what you did wrong. Or sometimes, you dislike each other. Mismatched personalities are just part of being human. It does not make either of you bad people. Sometimes you can resolve these conflicts, and sometimes having a colleague work with that teen instead can help.

7. Team up with a colleague who also likes working with teens (even if they don’t do so on a regular basis).
Having a colleague or manager who will back you up can really save you (not to mention that commiseration makes even the most wretched day a little easier). Sometimes allowing someone with a different approach step in to help deal with disruptive teens can be a huge help. It can also help to put some space between you and a teen with who you have a personality conflict (see above). You can help your colleague when they’re in similarly frustrating situations. Sometimes it’s all just too much and one of you will need a break, or some back-up. I always find that support helps me keep my cool.

8. If a group dynamic is causing problems, deal with individuals.
Sometimes a young person who is polite and friendly on their own will act like a jerk (yep, a jerk!) when they’re in group of friends (usually with the overt or tacit encouragement of said friends). How do you deal with this? If some of the teens come into the library on their own sometimes, talk to them directly and let them know that while you’re happy that they use the service, you’re not so pleased with their behaviour when they’re with friends.

10. Balance “Don’t” signs with “Do” signs.
In This Book is Overdue, author Marilyn Johnson wrote that there were many prohibitive signs in libraries, but not many telling you what you CAN do. I love the idea of balancing “Don’t” signs with “Do” signs, e.g. do study here, do ask staff for help if you’re stuck, do talk to library staff about any concerns or ideas you have, do bring your friends to the library, do request books, do tell us how the teen area can be improved, do ask about getting online at the library, do ask for help with your CV, et cetera. It may sound a little silly, but it does make the library seem more friendly.

Conclusion: The Best Defense is a Good Offense
The better you know the teens in your library and community, the more likely they are to respect you and the library. When you build relationships with local teens and become their advocate, you stop being “The Librarian” and become their librarian. Mutual respect goes a long way. Of course, building these relationships takes time (it’s an ongoing process) and is not without moments of considerable frustration.

Speak to local teens about what they want and need from the service. Perhaps teens want a library space where they can be loud and social while they use your resources. Many libraries have managed to accommodate this with special “louder” teen spaces, and/or allotting certain days and times as “social” or “quiet.” If you have a Teen Advisory Group, they can help formulate a list of ground rules for the teen space.

It helps to remember that a bit of whispering or grumbling about your rule enforcement usually isn’t personal. Teens spend a lot of time being told what to do (in school, at home, in public spaces), and that can be profoundly frustrating and even oppressive experience for young people. Just remember: a little grumbling about rules isn’t necessarily a reaction to you.

Lastly, there’s nothing wrong with feeling nervous about asking teens to respect the rules of the library. In fact, these requests can lead to discussion that will help you get to know the local young people and began to build links with the community. You don’t always have to get it right. Working with the public (teens or otherwise) is a constant learning experience, and the more experience you have, the more varied and effective your techniques become.

Dealing with rules and disruption in shared spaces is always a tricky business. Hopefully the suggestions above will help you improve your interactions with the teens in your library.

Library Gaming Special Edition of Teen Librarian

1 Mar

Happy March, everyone!

The wonderful Teen Librarian has put together a special issue on Library Gaming. This is actually Teen Librarian’s second issue on gaming in libraries. How cool!

The awesome thing about games is that they are designed… to be inherently fun and to challenge the mind.

The issue commences with Carl Cross’s summary of the Across the Board: Gaming in Libraries, Schools or Colleges conference. The next article (authored by yours truly) is about gaming for teen literacy in libraries. Those of you looking to boost interest in your events will be enthused by the third article, which offers sessions with popular computer game voice actor Nicki Rapp. If you’re looking for a different type of game-related event, Nikol Price gives instructions for hosting a successful afternoon-long game of Dungeons and Dragons, followed by an article by Shaun Kennedy about how to run a LARP at your library. There is an article about Games Workshop (war games) seminars for libraries. The newsletter concludes with a useful list of game novelisations and resources for those interested in gaming in libraries.

The newsletter also contains game-themed comic strips!

Gaming is a great activity for all libraries, irrespective of budget. I highly recommend that you click here and take a gander to find out more about bringing gaming to your library.

Staff vs. Teens: From Venting to Respect

24 Feb

The following was written by Sue Knesel, an American librarian working in Wyoming. Sue originally posted this message on the ya-yaac mailing list, and has graciously permitted me to reproduce her words here.

I started a teen area about 15 years ago now- coming from Children’s Services. We carved space next to the reference area. It quickly became apparent we hadn’t done our team building as the Reference staff was aghast with the noise level, traffic etc… to make a long story short we gathered all staff for an in-service, let them vent, apologized. An adolescent counselor to spoke about healthy teen development (that they travel in packs is healthy – worry about the loner we all love in the library), and where teens are developmentally.

Then we focused on the 40 Developmental Assets and had the whole staff work on recognizing the role that libraries and all staff play when dealing with teens.
We also had a strong message about these are our future patrons and we’d all like to have our jobs down the road. We handed them tools, such as 10 Hints for Working with Teens (Serving Young Adults, Patrick Jones). Part of the day was to write down five good/bad things the staff remembered from being a teen and would they like to be one again – no one wanted to go through that again. We now use an abbreviated version for new staff training. This couldn’t have happened if my administration didn’t buy in that all the staff serves all the patrons and it wasn’t just a youth services problem. We gave them role playing to help them learn to interact with teens and set boundaries that worked for the library, teens and staff. Part of the problem we discovered was the staff had no tools, no input and they were totally unprepared. I was dealing with staff threatening to quit, not mine but other departments’.

Another concern is even if we are nice and respectful towards the teens it only takes one staff person to put the teens off and that is what they remember and they talk about. I had a staff member identified by teens. Teens even figured out when that staff member worked and would not come to the library that night – straight from a parent who was concerned…(that was an issue that almost went to the Library Board).

So, all staff needs to be on the same page, just like I’m sure YA/Children staff serve adults with the same level of courtesy we serve youth. So it needs to go both ways. That was clearly said by my director to get all of the staff’s attention.

As far as rules – I like this quote “Rules Without Relationships = Rebellion”[1] – Our “rules” had input from teen volunteers and they approved them and that is on our signs.

I keep a binder of readings, information and thoughtful articles that I always want my staff to read and it really comes in handy when needing “fact” to educate administration. Below are some articles from my reading binder that might help with your staff.

Some of my resources:

YALSA Guidelines for Library Services to Teens
Somewhere to Walk and Someone to Walk With, Jami Jones VOYA Feb 2007
Teenagers Are Not Luggage: They Don’t Need Handling by Edward Sullivan, Public Libraries [USA] March/April 2001

[1] This was on a piece of paper that came from a long ago workshop and I can’t give credit – sorry.

On a Shoestring: Creating a Teen Offer without Staff or a Budget

23 Feb

This is the first post in YA Library UK’s On a Shoestring series. The series is designed to give advice to librarians struggling to develop teen library services amidst budget and staffing cuts.

Given the serious cuts and closures public and school libraries are currently facing, creating or improving your teen offer may seem nearly impossible. This can be hindering and highly discouraging. However, the situation is not impossible! Even if you have no staff hours or budget dedicated to teen services, there are some steps you can do to improve to improve the teen offer in your library.

Working in partnership with other organisations is a wonderful way of boosting your available programmes for teens. However, the suggestions below can be implemented without external assistance.

By improving your teen space, running passive programmes in your library, and working with other staff to devise a formal plan for teen services in your library or authority, you can invigorate teen services in your library.

Improving Teen Space in Your Library

Whether the library you work in is a sprawling central library or a cramped one-room branch, you can make the teen space awesome. If you work in a very small branch–or a mobile library–your entire teen area may be a shelf of books (hey, some spaces are just small!). If your have a shelf of books with, considering soliciting reviews of YA books, graphic novels and manga from teens who visit your branch regularly. Display the reviews by their respective books. The only cost there is for a piece of paper and a piece of tape. If you want to be especially fancy you could always laminate the review, or find a plastic wallet to display it in. Larger libraries can create entire review shelves or, if you have an area where you can put a book display, an entire review stand.

Alternately, ask teens who come into the library to help you think of themes for book displays (and ask them which books they think should be on it!).

Similarly, cork boards or an area of wall for posters can improve a teen area quite a lot. This space should be designated for information on teen events happening in the library and elsewhere in your community. It can also be used to advertise books, DVDs, graphic novels, manga and music of interest to teens. You can make short themed book recommendation lists and post them here. If film adaptations of YA books are being released, promote books and media that tie into the film (or relate to its theme). Make interesting posters of book lists and reviews to place in the teen area. Recruit talented teen artists and designers to help you.

Make a suggestion box for your teen area and put forms next to it. Bring teens’ attention to it whenever you have an opportunity, and encourage them to add their suggestions for the area (and the library).

Even small improvements to the area can make a large difference to teens who use it. Ask teens who use your library regularly what types of changes they’d like to see to the teen area. Teens in Essex Libraries have suggested that books in the YA section be divided by genre. Depending on the size of your YA collection, dividing the books may not take much staff time, but it can make a huge difference to readers.

Have passive programmes available in or near the teen area in your library.

Passive Programmes for Teens

Passive programmes are activities for teens that will help invigorate the library but put few demands on staff or budgets. While I don’t recommend comprising your entire offer of passive programmes, they can certainly help make the library more active, engaging, and teen-friendly. Here are some ideas to get you started:

+Keep board games behind the library’s counter. Teens can borrow these when they come into the library and return them when they leave. If you lack the funds for board games, you can make basic packs of cards available (again, behind the counter, to minimise the chance of cards getting lost), and display information about card games and tricks. If you lack a card budget, you can always make pens and paper available and display instructions for paper-based or homemade games (please comment or email for details of these kinds of games). You can also encourage teens to bring their own games from home to play in the library, and provide a space for them to do so.

+Post a poster advertising a writing or drawing competition, and offer a prize. Teens can submit their work to a reference desk or counter. Post winners (and winning drawings or pieces of writing) in the teen area! (Unless you are offering library vouchers or ARCs as prizes, you will probably need a small budget to purchase a small prize.) I’ve even heard of librarians simply putting jars of candy on (staffed) desks, and having teens guess the amount of candy in the jar. The teen with the closest guess wins a small prize.

+Provide a cork board (usually £4-14) and review cards for an Add a Review board. The Add a Review board is quite similar to the displays mentioned above, except that any teen can submit a review to be posted on the board. This is a great way for teens to be acknowledged in the space. It also promotes literacy.

+Start a review, writing, or library blog to which teens can submit reviews, writing, or art.

+Start a Facebook page for teen library services in your authority. It will take some time to develop a following, but a virtual presence still helps promote library services to young people.

Setting Clear Goals

Creating a plan for teen library provision does not require a formal budget. Sit down with other staff and establish goals: how many teens do you intend to get into the building? What would it require to do achieve this goal? Do you need to raise or apply for money in order to implement aspects of the plan? What are staff fears and how can they be allayed in a manner respectful to both staff and teens? (There will be a post addressing the latter question tomorrow, and one about writing a detailed teen plan on Friday.)

Please note that the above is not an advocation for reducing staff or budgets. It is intended to help librarians working in less than ideal conditions. Hopefully these suggestions will assist you in creating a foundation on which a more robust teen programme can be built.

Look for Part 2 of the One a Shoestring series next week! If you have any passive programmes or staff/budget-free projects that you’ve done, please comment or contact me!