Tech-Savvy Teens Can Help Design Your Library

By Daniel A. Freeman |

I think one of the coolest things about a library is that in addition to the service that it provides directly, it is also a forum. Each library serves a community and in turn, that community uses the library to discuss and learn more about who it really is, what its needs are and how they can be addressed. Libraries are the leaders in serving their communities, but only because they allow these communities to lead them.

For public libraries, young patrons are particularly important. A young library user is likely to be a lifelong library user, so the library must be a place where children and teenagers can feel like their needs are going to be met. In Massachusetts libraries are taking some exciting new steps to ensure that teens have direct input. Libraries across Massachusetts will be served by advisory boards with teenagers that will help design and develop new facilities.

It’s important that public libraries follow Massachusetts’ lead on this. It is clear that there is tremendous support for public libraries and an increased demand for library services in this difficult economy. Teens are among the technically-savvy patrons, and are always to be on the cutting edge of the newest Web 2.0 trends. The marketing industry is already using social networking to capitalize on this, so there’s no reason libraries can’t as well.