From the President

By Mack, Candice | Young Adult Library Services, Fall 2015 | Go to article overview

From the President


Mack, Candice, Young Adult Library Services


From Status Quo to Status GO!

This past year or so has been one of big changes for me. I have a new job and a new role in YALSA--I am now the association's president! These personal milestones have made me think about libraries and change. I have had to let go of the status quo in my life, and it's time for libraries to do the same when it comes to serving teens.

No More Status Quo

Traditionally, we have spent a lot of time figuring out how to get teens into the library. When we can, we visit schools, work with existing teen partners, try to think of creative programs to host in the library, put flyers up around town to advertise them, and so on. We are evangelists who go out and tell people about all the materials and services that libraries will provide if people come to visit them. Then we go back to the library, wait for teens to come to us, and we re more than happy to serve those who do. But what about all those teens that can't, or won't, come to the library? Don't they need and deserve libraries, too? Yes! And in order for libraries to stay relevant in the 21st century and for us to fulfill our duties as library staff, we need to go beyond the library walls and meet the teens where they are. We need to change the status quo.

Flipped Teen Services

How do we do that? By flipping the traditional teen services model. Instead of creating teen programs and services and then going out and trying to drum up interest in the community, we need to first get into the community, find out what teens need by engaging with them and the community partners that serve them, and then design programs and services for and with teens. If this is a new approach for you, it may seem like a lot of work, and initially that could be the case; however, the payoff is huge. Not only can your work be more meaningful and rewarding, it's likely that the teens in the community will end up being better served by the library.

Getting Started

Here are three steps you can use to get started:

1. Find out whom ALL the teens in your community are--not just the ones who are regular library users

2. Determine what the needs and interests of these teens are

3. Connect with appropriate community organizations and resources to plan, deliver, and evaluate services for and with teens that meet these needs and interests

For instance, my library system recently created a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transsexual (LGBT) Services Committee to help address the needs of LGBTQ patrons and staff in our communities. …

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