I couldn’t resist using the line from Field of Dreams. I felt like it fit in really well for this post. (And of course I used a picture of Iowa for the blog header!)
Anyway! It’s been just about six months since I started working as a teen services librarian. Which is a little hard to believe. When I first started the job I was nervous and basically convinced that I would fall flat on my face. There are two main components to my job: order books that the kids want to read and create programs that they can/want to attend.
Ordering books was the least daunting part for me. The only books I read are young adult books. So I felt like I had a pretty good grip on what I should order. The first few orders were a little nerve wracking, trying to make sure that I got everything right for the order, but over time it’s gotten easier. I always make a point to ask the kids what they want to read. Most of the time they just shrug, so I try to get a wide variety of materials. Stuff ranging from fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary, and thrillers. One of the best things I’ve picked up since ordering books is checking Kirkus or School Library Journal or a similar site for reviews. Kirkus has some of the most honest reviews I’ve come across and will often tell you if it’s worth buying for a collection. They will also make a point in stating how many characters, if any, are of color. I am a huge promoter of diverse books because I have such a strong belief that children should be able to pick up a book and identify with the characters.
The programming part of the job is what stressed me out the most. I’ve never really done programming before. When I was working as a reference assistant I did a few programs, but I always partnered with someone and the programs were aimed at adults. So dealing with programming for teens was a whole other story. Luckily the person who had the job before me already had a solid group of teens that came to the library on the regular basis. He also had a couple of clubs that ran on a regular basis: Teen Advisory Group (TAG) and Anime Club. TAG meets once a month and it’s basically where the kids gets to hang out with me and have their voices heard. We discuss what programs they want to do, parameters of programs that are coming up, books they want me to order, etc. Most of the time it’s just me talking but I do my best to engage them as much as possible. I also try to feature a new book every time we meet. It’s a lot of me going, “Hey look at this shiny new book, you should check it out!” It makes me feel like a book pusher.
Anime Club is exactly what it sounds like. Once a week a group of teens get together, eat snacks, and watch anime together. I can hear your questions now, “Isn’t this something that they could do at home?” Yes, yes they can. However, I think they like to come to the library because of the camaraderie of being with other kids that like the same things they do. This program doesn’t require me to do a whole lot. I control the remote. Because can you imagine what it would be like if the teens had control over it. LOL Not today Satan. I also make sure that nothing inappropriate pops up which means no nudity. Violence… sure, why not.
When I first came on board I asked the kids what other clubs they would like to have. I really wanted to do a book club and they wanted to do a gaming club. So I made the decision to do both.
They suggested that the book club should every other month so that kids could still have time to read the book along with all of their other school responsibilities. I never would have thought of that and I’m so glad that the kids suggested it. I picked out the name and the books. There have only been two book club meetings so far and the attendance hasn’t been high. Two or three kids have come but I’m hoping that a few more will start to show up and it will take off. Peep the cool posters I made!
Gaming club is something that the teens have been asking for for awhile. It happens once a month, even though they wanted it to be every week. With everything else that is going on at work I knew I couldn’t stretch myself that thin so once a month it was. Each month we switch between board games and video games. Figured this would be a great way to add variety and the kids wouldn’t get bored playing the same things over and over again. The library has a great collection of board games and video games for the kids already. There’s an Xbox One (I think?) and a Wii. Video games aren’t my strong suit. I mean the only video game system I really know how to work is the PlayStation that my parents bought back when I was like 12? It still works and I play Spyro from time to time. I’ve even brought it to the library a few times and the kids get a kick out of playing it. Comments they’ve made include, “What is Frogger? What’s with the graphics? Oh wait, you had Crash Bandicoot when you were a kid?” Y’all I felt like a freaking dinosaur.
Aside from all of those regularly scheduled “clubs” I also do a monthly specialty program. As of now I’ve done a Christmas Party, Anti-Valentine’s Party, Edible Mars Rover Challenge, and a Poetry Slam. The kids always have a say in these programs, especially if prizes are involved. Gift cards are a huge hit, although I pushed for books as a prize for the poetry slam.
These past few months have taught me so much and I feel like I’ve gained a lot of experience. Working with teens is unlike anything that I have ever done before. These kids are smart and are more aware of what is going on in the world that anyone gives them credit for. I am hoping to post about these programs on a regular basis. The next few months should be big because it’s my first summer reading! The theme this year is a Universe of Stories so be prepared for lots of space themed programs!