Calling all teens.
Do you love hanging out in the library? Do you have ideas on how to make the library more appealing to you and your friends? Do you love the idea of collaborating with the teen librarian and other teens?
If so, this information is for you.
Once a month for nearly four years, I have been meeting with our Teen Advisory Board to gain a teen perspective for the purpose of improving teen services at the library. Currently, I have students from Columbus East and North High Schools, Columbus Signature Academy New Tech, Central Middle School, and a couple of home-schoolers as members.
Board members are required to attend our monthly meeting and at least one teen program each month, which equates to about a two-hour monthly time commitment. During the meetings, they give me feedback and suggestions for improvement for the program they attended, suggest new programs, and brainstorm ideas for existing programs.
Members also get to choose the books for the library’s Teen Book Club.
For 2017, we decided that instead of having each teen read the same book, we would choose a different genre/topic for each month and allow teens to choose their own book in that genre to read. During book club, each teen can share which book they read and reveal a little bit about it. I talk about what story elements are typically present in the chosen genre and provide a list of books.
In January, we discussed novels in verse. I read “Wicked Girls” by Stephanie Hemphill which retells the story of the Salem witch trials from three different girls’ perspectives. In February, teens could choose between love stories and paranormal romance. I read “Guy in Real Life” by Steve Brezenoff, and I loved it.
The chosen genres/topics for the rest of the year are as follows.
March: Fantasy/fairy tale re-tellings
June: LGBTQ+, during National Pride Month
July: Beach reads/road trips
August: Manga/comics/graphic novels
September: Suicide, during Suicide Prevention Month
November: Historical fiction
December: Cookbook, when we will make a recipe together
Advisory board members also get to help plan and facilitate teen programs held during summer reading and can volunteer to help during large all-ages events. An additional benefit to being on the board is that it provides service learning/volunteer hours as required by local schools.
To join the board, just fill out an application and return it at the teen desk. You can join at any time during the year.
Applications can be found at the teen desk and online at mybcpl.org/teens. The next step is a brief, five- to 10-minute, low-key interview with me where I get to know you, explain requirements and answer any questions you may have.
After the interview, you are an official Teen Advisory Board member and can begin attending meetings. We meet from 4 to 5 p.m. one Monday per month — usually the last Monday. Several current members are involved in various sports and other extracurricular activities and participate when they are able.
Christina Kelley is the teen services librarian at Bartholomew County Public Library and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.