Teen Programming at the Library

teens booksMost libraries offer some kind of programming for children, whether it’s story times during the school year or a Summer Reading Program. However, not as many libraries offer programming for teens.

Why do Teens Need Libraries? YALSA, the Young Adult Library Services Association, has prepared a list:

  • Workforce Development: Public libraries offer services to help teens succeed in school and prepare for life after college. TutorND and Learning Express two services that are available to all North Dakota citizens.
  • Digital Literacy: Teens are not always as technically savvy as adults believe them to be. Librarians provide formal and point-of-need training to teens to help them use the Internet safely, effectively and ethically.
  • Traditional Literacy: 97% of public libraries provide a dedicated section of their library to teen books and other teen materials.
  • Year-Round Learning: Teens who participated in a public library summer reading program scored higher on reading achievement tests at the beginning of the next school year than those students who did not participate.

Karen Jensen, of The Teen Librarian Toolbox, reminds us that “Programming helps teens understand the role of the library, how to use it and its resources, and it helps cultivate lifelong library users and supporters.” You don’t want teens to stop using the library due to lack of programming.

In her primer on teen programming, Karen points out the many benefits that programming provides to your library:

  • Keeps your library visible in the community
  • Brings in new patrons
  • Brings in return business
  • Provides an opportunity for community partnerships
  • Increases circulation and promotes literacy

Keep those benefits going for your library as your patrons transition into their teen years!

Before starting teen programming in your library, Karen recommends the following:

  • Understand the teenage developmental process
  • Recognize that teen brains are different
  • Immerse yourself in teen popular culture
  • Remember that teens are peer-oriented

If you work with children or teens, being familiar with the Developmental Assets can help you plan programming that is appropriate for their age.

To promote teen programming, don’t forget to partner with the librarians at the middle school and high school to help spread the word! Other tips to promote attendance include:

  • Schedule programs regularly for predictability, keeping the school schedule in mind
  • Word of mouth – encourage teens to invite their friends
  • Provide snacks!

What kind of programming does your library offer for teens? Share your stories in the comments!

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