This series started out as a demonstration of the relevance of libraries in today's technology, mobile and fast paced world. To many, libraries are seen as a symbol of long forgotten days when time went by slower. According to Rassmusen Polls that is not how teens see the libraries in their everyday life. In their eyes, life would be woefully different. This is good news for librarians, it is this generation that will support libraries in their communities for years to come. Coincidently, American Library Association has designated this week (October 12 - 17, 2014) as Teen Read Week. The theme chose for this year is focusing on encouraging teens to follow their dreams. Where else can they help make that dream come true? It all starts at, guessed it, the library.
The public library offers a safe haven for teens to explore topics of interests, do homework and hangout with peers. At the risk of sounding like a cheesy infomercial, "But wait there's more!" because really there is so much to offer that finding the perfect place to being is difficult.
In recent years, Children's/Youth Librarians have begun programs such as Teen Advisory Boards which invites teens for the community to get involved by becoming young volunteers for the library. In these "board" meetings, teens have a chance to discuss topics of interests to them, such as books, movies and teen library programming ideas for the library. This is the perfect opportunity for Youth Librarians to gather information for collection development. What are the hits in the YA world and what is it about the author/books that get the kids to want to read more? Speaking of books, it just may surprise most how good the YA books and how teens are devouring them as if they were video games. Just looking at the recent movie releases, Hollywood has realized that not only do the stories make for good books but for movies as well. The box office proves this is so with titles such as The Hunger Games, Maze Runner and The Giver. This can only help the circulation of books increase in libraries across the country.
Teens can also volunteer their time for the big events at the library such as Summer Reading programs which normally spans about 6 weeks of programming. Who better to be seen working the summer programs then local teens who love to read? Having said this, there has to be a trade off for teens in this venture. Programs that are tailored just for them is just as important as those geered for children, tweens and parents. In many cases, teen programs can participate in innovative programs such as a spin-off of "Whose Line Is It Anyways?". This is an improv program inspired by Drew Carey's program of the same name. Teens come away with clean fun and an opportunity to use cool props and be creative. Parents take note: This is a wonderful way for teens to earn community service for high school graduation requirements as well as a safe place for teens to hangout.
Teens should also take advantage of the opportunity to prepare for college prep tests such as ACT and SAT. There are plenty of exam books that help with the type of questions that are typically asked. Teens should ask their school librarians as well as public librarians if there are ACT/SAT exam study days at the library. It may be surprising that libraries are already providing these programs as well as self-help exams available electronically through databases. (An example of this is MEL -- Michigan Electronic Library, most state libraries have something similar to this)
Teens have found that the technology at the library is not out of date as most would like to believe. For many, homework assignments would have never been completed if it hadn't been for the local library making available a computer lab. As stated in other posts, the internet is just the tip of what is offered through the computers. Databases. Word processing. Powerpoint and so much more.
It can be said that it is the teens that will dictate how the libraries will be used in the future. After all they are demonstrating right now what they want, need and how they use the library. As adults, this should be a lesson in looking at things with fresh eyes. How does the old saying go: Everything old is new again.