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Teens are Patrons, Too!


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Libraries are becoming the after school hangout for many communities. But this can mean problems too. Are you having trouble with your teens behaving in the library? Are some other members of the …

Libraries are becoming the after school hangout for many communities. But this can mean problems too. Are you having trouble with your teens behaving in the library? Are some other members of the public (or staff!) treating them unfairly? Why do we need to be nice to teens anyway? This class will address the topic of teens in the public library and how your library can be a safe, inviting, and happy place for teens (and staff!). \

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  • Requiring ID or parental permission, or banning kids is a last resort. Barriers to library access are a failure on the part of libraries to serve teens. Libraries exist to serve EVERYONE and can play a positive role in the lives of teens, even difficult ones. Nobody ’s library policies include the words “except teens”. How to encourage them to act responsibly – tell them the policies! Keep rules to a minimum, and keep it simple. Firm, fair and consistent. Don ’t have rules just for teens – if the library prohibits cell phones, more than one person to a chair or eating, make sure teens know (and see you enforcing it) that it doesn’t just apply to them, it is for everyone. Kids screaming after storytime, seniors with hearing aids and crying babies are all loud but we’re quick to be all over teenagers who are laughing or talking in groups. Keep it in perspective too – the kid with the Burger King bag or the girl on the cell phone talking about the cute guy in math have made a misstep, not committed a crime.
  • TAB is essential – we think we ’re cool and we know what they want but it needs to be kid driven Try some different times – after hours on Friday night, Saturday afternoon Food! They are always hungry
  • Teen site should be linked prominently to library site so teens know there is “stuff” for them here.
  • Separate space helps alleviate tension that comes up when NORMAL teen behavior clashes with “appropriate” library behavior. Once they have a space, plan for them to be there by making sure there’s teen-friendly staff present every day who will create appropriate rules and appropriate consequences.
  • If they don ’t see the library as important and relevant now, how do we expect them to in 10 years?
  • Transcript

    • 1. Teens are Patrons, Too!Presented by Sarah Sogigian,Massachusetts Library System
    • 2. A Day in the Life… Up at 6:30 AM Get to school for 7:30 Lunch at 10:45 Get out of school at 2:15 After school activities-track- 2:30-4:30 Robotics/job- 5:30-8:30 Dinner when they can grab it Homework until 12:00 AM
    • 3. The library business “…we are in the people business, unlike our competitors who are in the information and book business. The library can and should be the center of its community; its reputation built on rapport and positive interactions with our patrons - that is our strongest selling point as an institution.” - Patrick Jones
    • 4. Who are they? Millenials, YAs, teens, Gamer Generation Ages 11-17 Will be 41% of the population in 20 years Will control the economy in 20 years If we serve this population effectively as teens, they will return to us as adults.
    • 5. Factors that affect library behavior:Younger Teens 11-14 Just starting to recognize consequences of their actions Believe they are always the center of attention (a pimple is a major crisis) Start to test the limits put on them by adults Troubled kids may act out (fist fights etc) to express emotional pain(American Medical Association)
    • 6. Factors that affect library behavior:Older Teens 15-17  Can understand long-term effects of decisions & solve problems but use those skills inconsistently  Do things without thinking first  Question and challenge school/home rules  Less time with family, more time with friends  Want control over more of their lives
    • 7. Here Comes Trouble School Library Journal 7/1/2004 Some come for homework, most to hang out Talk on cell, eat, make out, flirt, run around Requiring ID or parental permission Communicate policies one-on-one Respect yourself, respect others, respect property
    • 8. Preventing disciplinary problems Unclench your teeth, take a deep breath and stop pulling your hair out Get to know the kids – mutual respect Behavior is the problem, not the teen More than one warning but don’t let things get out of hand Use peers to control behavior
    • 9. So what do they want from us?
    • 10. A place to WIN! “The tone needs setting for all patrons, but especially for YAs, that the library is a place where they can “win.” The library should be an inviting space with helpful people. YAs are so self-conscious that they take any sort of rudeness very personally.” - Patrick Jones
    • 11. Solutions to their problems What teens want when they visit our libraries, is “solutions to problems and good feelings.” - Patrick Jones A place to socialize without being “shushed” Safe, welcoming place to be with friends Food or a way to eat without being in trouble
    • 12. So what do wedo with them?
    • 13. Programs Teen advisory board: it all starts here Offer programs they want Be flexible about time Always have food!
    • 14. Teen-friendly staff  71% of 556 teens in Arizona indicated the most important factor for creating a comfortable atmosphere libraries was “friendly staff”.  Train staff to be more knowledgeable about adolescent development and more responsive to teens’ needs and interests  Staff teen areas with librarians who enjoy being with young adults  Listen to teen suggestions concerning teen services
    • 15. Collections Don’t be afraid to try new formats Ask what they want, then BUY IT! Take them with you Anime, graphic novels, manga Downloadable content
    • 16. Web presence Develop teen website and/ or blog with links geared to homework help and areas of teen interest Offer online programming – virtual book club, author chats Your virtual presence should be as welcoming as your physical presence
    • 17. Their own space  Create a teen-friendly space that allows them to socialize  Separate space allows them to “be themselves”  “Plan for them to be there”
    • 18. One last thought … Today’s teenagers are tomorrow’s taxpayers.