Tag Archives: teen library funding

Funding for Libraries: Grants for the Arts Libraries Fund

5 Aug

Arts-Council-England-jpegThe Arts Council’s Grants for the Arts Libraries Fund opened for applications in September 2012. It’s a £6 million scheme granting funding to public libraries of £1,000 to £100,000 for partnership arts schemes, and it’s open for application until March 2015. Find out more and apply.

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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

cupcakes

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
Brainstorm
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.