PCPL already had a very basic teen volunteer program. Teen volunteer help was primarily sought during the summer to help with the summer reading program. It was up to each individual branch to provide training and decide how much help and what teens would help with. The dusenberry river branch library has many teens interested in volunteering so year round, I was getting requests to volunteer. I would have teens starting and stopping at different times and training was spotty depending on my schedule and the teens schedule. The “help” we were getting was sometimes a lot more work than it was worth. I also started realizing how difficult it is for teens to get a job in the increasingly tight job market. They need more skills just to get an entry level job. I realized I needed a structured program that would allow me to ensure my volunteers had solid in order to help them get the experience and skill set they would be able to use in the future, and I would be getting quality volunteer work.
That is it basically
This program has three distinctive features, the structure of the program, the specific training the volunteers receive and the experience the teens get.
Explain the structure Why it is good? – having volunteer sessions allows us to provide volunteer opportunities to more teens and it keeps volunteers on the same track for training and volunteering. It also allows for a more realistic job experience in a condensed amount of time.
Volunteers are now receiving very specific, structured training. The training is focused on giving teens the skills they will need to be successful as new employees and future job seekers.
Tell story of Aaron in library task training
Applications were already in place but we added the interview process. This has two benefits. The teens get experience with the interview process before it is high stakes and it also gives us a before and after example to talk about during the job interview skills training. It also helps us ensure that the volunteers who participate in the program are motivated and have follow through. I always ask the teen to call in and schedule the interview. If the parent is there with the teen and seems to be the one pushing the teen, I explain that calling for the interview is part of the job experience practice
There are two training sessions. One at the beginning of the volunteer session focused on what the teens will be doing. And one at the end focused on how to take the skills they have just learned and apply them to getting a job in the future.
The first part of the initial training always includes basic job skills training. I make it clear to the teens that the volunteer session is structured the same way a job is structured which will give them experience and practice with job skills. I expect them to call if they will be late or unable to attend their shift, I explain basic work expectations and some of the rules we have at the library (like wearing close toed shoes)
I spend a lot of time talking about the importance of customer service and how to provide good customer service. Most of the teen volunteers assume they will be helping to put books away. I explain the concept of behind the scenes customer service and why it is so important to shelve books quickly and accurately. I want them to make a connection between everything they do and the experience that our library customers have. This is one of the “bridge moments” we have with the teen volunteers. I explain that customer service at the library is very similar to customer service anywhere else and the skills they will be using as a volunteer will be the skills they will need if they get a job at starbucks or stocking shelves at the grocery store.
This portion of the training is the nuts and bolts of the teen volunteer experience. This part of the training would depend on what tasks your library decides a teen volunteer will be helping with. The training during the summer includes how to staff the summer reading table and how to work with young children and their parents, during the school year, I focus more on shelving and shelf reading.
This training session is provided at the end of the volunteer session. I explain some general resume and job skills concepts and then we focus specifically on the skills they have just learned and how they may want to write that up on a resume and how they would talk about their experience in a job interview.
Bobby started off as a non-library user. He asked about volunteering at the library because he was having a hard time finding a job and his parents said if he volunteered somewhere, they would help pay his car insurance. He applied for the program and started volunteering. After a few weeks of volunteering he asked how to use the library catalog and how he could check out books. After a few more weeks of volunteering he asked about getting a job at the library. He took the initiative to apply to the county teen job program through which we hire our teen employees, when a job opened up, I was able to hire Bobby.
Katie started out as what I think of as the typical bookish teen. She wanted something to do during the summer and loves books and reading so decided to ask about volunteering at the library. She was very shy and quite when she started volunteering. I am pretty sure she thought the library would be a quite place where she could look at books. Of course, summer at the library is far from quite and Katie spent a lot of time helping kids sign up for the summer reading program and answering questions. It was difficult for her at first but the structured training helped her feel confident with the interactions with library customers. Katie asked to continue volunteering during the school year and she has been helping with our read to a dog program. Katie now confidently greets kids at the door, explains what the program is all about, helps kids with crafts while they are waiting for their turn and even fills in as a reading partner if the dogs can’t make it. She has become confident and comfortable working with the public
From Teen Volunteer to New Employee – Helping Teens Bridge the Gap
Helping Teens Bridge the Gap
Teens need experience
Teens need training
We need help
To provide teens aged 14-18 an opportunity to
develop basic job skills as well as job
interview and resume writing experience
through volunteering at the public library.
2 month long sessions
4 during school year
1 during summer
4 volunteers per school session
20-25 volunteers per summer session
Basic job skills
Job interview skills
Customer service skills
Basic job skills practice
Library task training
Includes session dates & program
Based on page interview
Basic job skills
Volunteer task training
Summer Reading Program
Job interview skills
Basic Job Skills
No cell phone or texting during work
Library Mission, Vision & Values
Volunteers are the face of the library
Customer Service Skills
Face to face
Behind the scenes
Got a SEC?
Customer service for children
Customer service for parents
Job Interview Skills &
Build a bridge
Taking it on the Road
Safety and privacy training
43 teen volunteers from 2009-present at
Dusenberry River Library
1 volunteer hired
Quality of volunteer work has greatly increased
Teens have increased confidence and skills
Building core of teen users at Wheeler Taft
Abbett, Sr. Library
From Challenge to Success
Was not a promising volunteer, but really her
parent needed more managing than she did
Taught life skills along with job skills
Needed extra structure and attention to
Volunteer evaluation form
More hands on – less lecture!
Managing a growing program
Schedule volunteers appropriately
Keep staff informed
No real need to advertise
Have brochures or flyers to hand out
Taking it system-wide
Training for librarians
System-wide training for
Teen Leadership Pilot
Must complete one
Helping Teens Bridge the Gap