Think Globally, Act Locally
It’s hard to fathom as I write this, but Teen Read Week TM (TRW) is right around the corner. Th is year’s TRW theme, Get Active @ your library®, is one of my favorites so far, not only because it can be interpreted to mean a variety of things from the teens’ perspectives— such as participating in sports, volunteering, exercising, or even gaming—but it also reminds librarians that we can set an example for the teens we serve by actively advocating for them.
Laurel Sandor, chair of YALSA’s Legislation Committee, has written a highly informative piece about how her committee works within the larger structure of ALA to lobby for teen services in libraries. Included with this article is a list of ways to involve teens in the political process. My library, for instance, helped local teens successfully lobby for a skate park. Th anks in part to our staff ’s efforts to empower teens with the information they needed to make their points to city council, funds have recently been allocated to this project.
But, it’s not only important to advocate for teen services on a national—or even community—level; sometimes we have to go to bat for them right in our own libraries. As many of us who work in public libraries know, other staff members may not always have a knack for working with teens. Kimberly Bolan addresses this issue in her article, “Bridging the Gap,” in which she discusses ways to more eff ectively relate to teens, and how to use staff training to build a bridge between generations.
Another way to advocate for teens within your library is through technology. It’s well known that teens are plugged in, so how can libraries continue to off er services they fi nd useful? To answer this question, the YALSA Technology for Young Adults Committee conducted a fascinating interview with Stephen Abram, vice president of innovation for SirsiDynix. Abram’s proactive and pioneering approach to the implementation of technology in libraries is sure to please teen customers, and was a real eyeopener for me.
Finally, this issue is rounded out with ways to inspire teens themselves to get active within the library. After reading through this issue, you’ll know how to build a corps of teen volunteers; how to implement interactive gaming programs; how to work with special needs teens; and how to serve LGBT teens. But there’s no sense reinventing the wheel; many libraries already encourage teen volunteerism, as evidenced by the extensive annotated webliography submitted by YALSA’s Youth Participation Committee.
After reading this issue, you won’t have any excuses. Go out there and get active! Your teens, your libraries, and your communities will thank you.