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Gresham ils522 staff_workshop



This presentation was created as part of a staff workshop designed in ILS 522: Services for Young Adults, taught by Dr. Arlene Bielefield, Southern Connecticut State University, Department of ...

This presentation was created as part of a staff workshop designed in ILS 522: Services for Young Adults, taught by Dr. Arlene Bielefield, Southern Connecticut State University, Department of Information and Library Science.



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  • Introduction: Anne Gresham, Reference LibrarianExperience With Teens: Teen Tech Club Teen Tech Week Various Regular Teen Programs MLS CourseworkLibraries can be one of the most positive and empowering things in a young person’s life, and we’re in a position to give it to them. I’d like to talk with you today about how we can make that happen!
  • Outline the presentation.
  • Teens can be terrifying, but fear is the product of ignorance. I’d like to spend a few minutes talking about who these people are so that we can work with them with confidence.
  • Start by asking the question to the group and allow for discussion. Emphasize that the courteous, no-questions asked service we provide adults applies to teens as well. Note that set-in-stone age definitions are not always appropriate.
  • Invite answers from staff.Emphasize that the library can provide a constructive and safe social space for teens, and this should not be viewed as a threat. Additionally, all information is not academic! Teens log on to Facebook to find information. Continue by explaining that teens do in fact use the library for homework, and often need our help and our resources. Mention that much like our adult patrons, teens also view the library as a source of entertainment – magazines, graphic novels, and Gossip Girl books are no more deserving of condescension from staff than the Encyclopedia Britannica. Finally, suggest that some teens are a captive audience. They have been dropped off and left to fend for themselves. This is an opportunity for us to win lifelong library supporters by making their library experience engaging and worthwhile.
  • Invite answers from staff. Give some suggested answers taken from Gorman and Suellentrop (2009). Ask the group why these wants are important to teens and if they can think of any ways to provide them.
  • Invite answers from staff. Ask for examples for each bullet point. Extend the discussion by pointing out that these are basic teenage developmental needs, and the library can provide a safe space for nurturing them.
  • Why do they act like they do? Many people simply can’t understand why adolescents choose to act out, dress in bizarre fashions, and put such enormous importance on their friends’ opinions, often at the expense of common sense. However, there’s nothing abnormal about them (but don’t tell them that!). Next I’d like to walk through the stages of adolescence and the characteristics of each.
  • Ask for additional complaints – let staff vent a little bit!
  • Emphasize the uniqueness of adolescence in American culture.
  • These three stages are rather plainly named, but possess distinct characteristics. Let’s talk about them in a little more depth.
  • This is a difficult stage, both for teens and those who love them. Teens in this stage are not operating with a full set of adult logic and rationality, and it’s unreasonable to ask them to. Ask for memories and stories.
  • Ask for memories and stories. What are some ways for libraries to provide healthy risks and support maturing interests and skills?
  • Ask for memories and stories. Discuss ways to nurture a burgeoning sense of these teens’ place in the community.
  • Now we know who they are and why they act the way they do. So what next?
  • For each skill, ask for an example of a library situation where it would be useful.
  • Act out examples of each. Library staff are neither parents nor teachers – we can provide a space where teens interact with adults who are not dictators. So don’t act like one! However, remember that teens are still developing interpersonal skills, and remember that your sense of self is not at stake – you are there to support them, not to be destroyed by them. We are no longer teens, though, and acting like one won’t help. In fact, it will probably be painful. Go ahead and be an adult – you are not fluent in their language, no matter what you think!
  • The way that you greet teens will have enormous influence on their opinion of libraries. Make it a pleasant experience for them – smile, make eye contact, and show them that you are listening and that respect their needs and difficulties. Ask for examples of each bullet point.
  • Thanks for all your input! I’ll compile all of your suggestions and observations you’ve made throughout the presentation and post them on the staff network.
  • Let’s take a five minute break. There are refreshments in the back. When we come back, we’ll do some role playing to put some theory into practice.

Gresham ils522 staff_workshop Gresham ils522 staff_workshop Presentation Transcript

  • Connecting With Young Adult Patrons
    Anne Gresham
  • Connecting With Young Adult Patrons
    Part 1: Understanding Teens in the Library
    Part 2: Stages of Adolescence
    Part 3: Tips for Serving Teens
  • Part 1: Understanding Teens in the Library
  • Who – or What – Are They?
    They are people
    They are library patrons
    Our programming policy defines teens as 13-18 years old
  • Why are they here?
    To socialize
    To find information
    To do homework
    Lack of a parentally sanctioned alternative
  • What do they want?
    To be involved
    A space designed for their needs
    Access to technology and popular materials
    To be treated with respect
    Gorman & Suellentrop (2009), p. 15
  • How Can Libraries Help Teens Develop?
    Gorman & Suellentrop (2009), p. 15
  • Part II: The Stages of AdolescenceRemember how it felt to be a teenager?
    Yeah, but…
  • Common Complaints About Teens
    They won’t stop shouting!
    They’re RUDE!
    They all hate me!
    They look and act ridiculous!
    They travel in enormous packs!
  • If they don’t want to be treated like children, why won’t they act like adults?
    Because they aren’t either.
  • The Stages of Adolescence
    Early Adolescence
    Middle Adolescence
    Late Adolescence
    Gorman & Suellentrop (2009), p. 15
  • Early Adolescence
    Increased concern with appearance
    Seeks independence
    Rebellious/defiant behaviors
    Increased importance of friends, peer group
    Ego dominates perceptions
    Gorman &Suellentrop (2009), p. 15
  • Middle Adolescence
    Becomes less self-absorbed
    Independent decision making
    Self-image experimentation
    Risk taking
    Develops values and morality
    Forms lasting relationships
    Increased intellectual awareness
    Interests and skills mature
    Gorman & Suellentrop (2009), p. 15
  • Late Adolescence
    Idealistic world view
    Increased involvement with the world outside of school and family
    Sets goals
    Forms stable relationships
    Views adults as equals
    Establishes independence
    Gorman & Suellentrop (2009), p. 15
  • Part III: So What Can I Do to Help Them?
  • Ninja Skills for Serving Teens (Joseph, 2010)
    be better at finding information than they are
    Understand and seek the new and the recent
    Strength of age and wisdom
    If you are older than 24, you are very old to teens
    Memory – remember patron names and preferences
  • DON’T:
    Power trip
    Take it personally
    Blow it out of proportion
    Treat teens like children
    Try to be cool
    Gorman & Suellentrop (2009); Bolan (2006)
  • DO:
    Be approachable
    Be a good listener
    Be good at answering questions
    Be an advocate for teens
    Maintain boundaries
    Be consistent
    Gorman & Suellentrop (2009); Bolan (2006)
  • And Remember:
    We’re glad they’re here!
  • References
    Bolan, K. (2006). Bridging the Gap: Proactive Approaches for Adults Working with Teens. Young Adult Library Services, 4(4), 32-46. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
    Gorman, M. & Suellentrop, T. (2009). Connecting young adults and libraries (4th ed.). New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.
    Joseph, M. (2010). An Exquisite Paradox: Making Teens and Young Adults Welcome in Public Libraries. Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services, 23(3), Retrieved from EBSCOhost.