The Teen Library Council! Let’s get started!
It has been two months since opening applications and holding monthly meetings for the Teen Library Council. This underutilized yet goldmine of a resource has helped me in one meeting more than I could ever ask for. Although small, we got into the details of what kind of programs the library should offer and more importantly, how to get teens coming into the library (for more than just Internet and A/C).
I’ll admit. It’s nerve-wracking for me. My first program held for almost a whole year (September – May) and with teens. I’m a bit more introverted and feel better making booklists and helping patrons 1-on-1. Is it scary? Sure, anything could come up, no one could show up, there’s a 3-day weekend (so it’ll be risky having it on a Thursday before that weekend or rescheduling), it slowly peters out, etc. But! Hearing from teens that so-and-so program would be attractive since a lot of teens at school are talking about it, it’s worth the feelings akin to butterflies in my stomach.
A YA librarian colleague lent me her Teen Library Council materials as a good starting point. The goal was to make applications for teens to sign up with. The application was similar to a job application (good practice for the future, right?) and an agreement that stipulates the teen, should they become a member, must attend x amount of programs during their term as member, attendance is mandatory, etc. Main requirement: Have a library card in good standing.
Next came the promotions. Flyers, bulletin board, white board, emails to school librarian contact became important.
So what’s the lure? What’s the catch? Why should teens sign up for the Teen Library Council anyway? Volunteer hours.
For every meeting a TLC Member attends, that’s one hour of volunteer service. For every program they attend/volunteer, that’s double the hours. Same if the program they attend/volunteer for is an idea they thought of.
Since they’re doing library material suggestions on their own time, I think that doubling the hours if they attend program is a good balance. Suggestions can be music, books, movies for the library to purchase with library funds. Subject to approval. The members do their research on the item by looking at sources (New York Times Best Seller Lists, Kirkus Reviews, etc.) and turn in to me for review. Should we purchase the items and put into the library’s collection, that feeling of contribution is there. Also it helps the community by being the voice of the community.
I’ll have to come back to this post in a few months to detail my first journey into being a Teen Library Council Advisor!