Tag Archives: teen advisory board

Further Teen Advisory Group DOs and DON’Ts

16 Feb

Last year I wrote about starting a Teen Advisory Group (TAG) in your library. Here is some further guidance to help you out.


+Provide snacks, drinks, and sweets. I highly recommend providing some form of protein-based snack, as it prevents blood sugar levels from dropping too severely.

+Have a reliable teen take notes. (If no one reliable is forthcoming, you may always take them yourself). The notes should include a list of who’s present at the meeting (pass around a clip board so teens can sign in and provide some form of contact details), whether previous minutes (if existent) are agreed to or need further discussion, and discussion topics for the day. It should also include actionable items below the discussion topics. For example, if teens want a bulletin board in the Teen Zone, so the actionable steps would be comparing bulletin boards, coming up with an estimated cost, and applying for funding from your library or raising the money. I or one of the teens usually type up the notes and then send to the group. The teens have also agreed to make the minutes accessible to staff (via our Intranet), which means that staff are aware of projects the TAG is working on.

+Give the group about 5-10 minutes to settle in and chat with you and each other. This allows anyone who’s late to straggle in and provides some social time for the group.

+Even a group of 10 young people can turn into a total rabble. If you’re having trouble keeping order or generating a coherent discussion, you can always divide them into smaller groups of 4-5 (or even groups of 2-3) and give them about five minutes to devise answers to the questions. If you’re having repeated problems keeping order in the group, find an amenable member of staff who can attend a few session to help establish some order.

+Provide a break. If the session is 60+ minutes long, a break in the middle that gives the teens (and you!) the opportunity to walk around, stretch, and be loud can really help to diffuse some tension. The first half of the meeting will generally be more focused than the second half, so try to get the important stuff in there first!

+Invite amenable members of library staff to parley with the teens. This can help shift both staff and teen perceptions of each other, and can help library staff to become more aware of teens’ perspective.

+Friendly managers may be willing to meet with the group to involve them in library processes. For example, a supervisor who buys DVDs for the library spent a TAG showing the group how he selected DVDs and getting their opinions on which ones to purchase. The group heavily influenced the DVD stock selection of that month!


+Don’t get discouraged if it seems as though the group didn’t achieve too much or often veered off topic. When you receive or type up the notes you’ll be surprised by exactly how much was agreed upon. The library isn’t school, and the group needn’t be 100% on-topic all the time in order to be effective.

+Don’t assume teenagers know how to take meeting minutes effectively! I have a notes template that I had out to note-takers at our meetings. It’s relatively simple but keeps note-takers on track. Please email me at yalibraryuk@gmail.com if you’d like a basic notes template for these meetings.

+Don’t let the group be too vague or let them take on too much at once. Many teenagers are still learning how to organise and prioritise. Guide them through the process by nudging them to choose one achievable project first. If they have their hearts set on a larger, longer-term project that will take more time to achieve fruition, encourage them to work on some shorter-term, achievable projects as well. That way they continue to see results of the group. Some longer projects (especially those that require money and/or vetting by management) can take months to come to fruition.

+Don’t go into a meeting without a board (or large pad of paper) to write on! Visual aids are a big help when brainstorming. Don’t forget markers/pens!

+Don’t dominate the meeting by talking at the group! Make meetings interactive. It is after all a teen advisory group, so young people should be doing a lot of the talking.

+Don’t make meetings too serious (unless the teens want them to be serious It’s okay to have fun, or even to plan period outings, parties, fun volunteer days, et cetera, as part of the group. Making it fun will inspire young people to come back.

+Don’t set unrealistic deadlines or obscure the difficulties of achieving certain projects. Be encouraging and positive, but realistic about obstacles. Teens are quite good at circumnavigating challenges to and problems with their project.

+Don’t become discouraged if the library budget precludes teenagers or your TAG. The accomplishments of a Teen Advisory Group can help to bolster your proposals to managers for allocation of money to teen programmes (in fact, the TAG may have input into any such proposal). In the meantime, the group has the option of raising money themselves by hosting book sales, bake sales, workshops and the like. Alternately, teen groups may apply for funding.


Links Round-Up: Teen Advisory Group Case Study, Mobiles, Bullying, Et Cetera

17 Nov

Green Bean Teen Queen provides a case study of her library’s Teen Library Council and gives advice on making yours successful!

School Library Journal explains why teen areas and gaming spaces in libraries are so important and provides a few great case studies to boot!

Many public libraries are including a gaming area. Why? Because libraries are finding that teens are more likely to use other library resources and services when there’s an activity such as gaming that interests them.” -School Library Journal

The first ever issue of the Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults is now available to read online!

On YPulse, a teen gives advice to companies about what teens want. Libraries can learn a lot from the five points outlined (“make it matter, hang in the hood, be real, give them the stage, don’t dumb it down”).

Danah Boyd reveals how the term “bullying” has little resonance with American teenagers. I think there is some crossover here with British teens. Maybe using the word “bullying” is impeding educational progress and bullying prevention.

Oodles of resources for body positivity and fat acceptance in YA fiction and for teens have been posted by Fat Girl Reading.

Barking Robot reports on 50 Mobile Youth Facts You Need to Know. Did you know that over a billion young people own cell phones (worldwide, of course)? Amazing. Gets me thinking on how to tie together library services and mobile phone use. I’ve heard lots of Americans say that they contact teens in their regular reading groups via text message!

Funky Librarian reports back on Connected Generation 2010 (I know this is from May, but I just found it and it’s still relevant!).

Young people need to be inspired to engage and be empowered by a social media project, engagement is not simply following but interacting, and you need to talk to them in their own language online. We need to work on ensuring the platform and content inspire the young people using libraries.” -Funky Librarian on Connected Generation 2010

The Wicked Young Writers Award (for young people ages 5-25) is now accepting submissions for its 2011 writing contest.

CLASY writes about helping teens engage with history for Remembrance Day.

Teen Librarian recommends giving some All Hallow’s Reads as part of 12 Months of Halloween.

American teens hosted an all-night reading of banned books on 10 November. Now there’s a great idea for a library program!

Finally, for all you YA book bloggers, the 2010 Holiday Reading Challenge just started on 15 November, so go start reviewing!