Tag Archives: teens

Here’s What a Kids/Tween/Teen Library Looks Like in 2014

The 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library at 2pm on June 24, 2014.

The 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library at 2pm on June 24, 2014.

What’s going on here in this photo taken at 2pm on Tuesday June 24, 2014 on The 2nd Floor at the Chattanooga Public Library?

  • A day camp visits the library. 30 kids and 5 camp counselors.
  • The V-Mission: Natural Disasters LiSTEM program, a partnership between the Chattanooga Public Library and the Challenger STEM Learning Center.
  • Two outside workers installing Aerohive Wireless Routers to improve wireless access on the 2nd Floor.
  • An unknown (but significant) number of walk in patrons looking for items and using library services.
  • A number of kids, tweens, and teens enjoying open and free video gaming in the 2nd Floor Arcade.
  • A group of three tweens learning about 3D printing.
  • 3 staff members located in this area of the 2nd Floor, with another 2 in the area focused on ages 0-7.

Why do I share this? Because I want to show what the modern kid/tween/teen library looks like in 2014.  It is:

  • Busy
  • Chaotic
  • Full of people
  • Noisy
  • Energetic
  • Curious
  • Messy
  • A work in progress
  • A place where all kinds of learning and literacy happen
  • A place for everyone in the community
  • Fun

This is what the kid/tween/teen library looks like in 2014. It may not look like this in 2015, but that’s OK. The kid/tween/teen library looks like what the community needs it to look like.  This is us on the 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library. What do you look like?

Library Futures Seminar at the Louisville Public Library

Hello all!  I am in Louisville, KY today as part of a Libraries Futures Seminar at the Louisville Public Library organized by the very awesome June Garcia and Susan Kent.  I’ll be talking about Kids/Tweens/Teens and the 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library.  I am so very honored to be part of this great event!

Here are my slides. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below!

TWO Youth Services Things That I Have Been Thinking About (2014 Edition)

1. WHAT THE HECK ARE WE DOING WITH YOUTH SERVICES?
Kids? Tweens? Teens? Teen Spaces? The Children’s Library?  All of the division by ages in libraries has really been getting to me over the past few years.

Say you’re an 11 year old.  Say your Teen Library is ages 12-18. What if the 11 year old is really into the stuff you have in the Teen Library? Do you not allow them in until they’re 12? Do you make a special secret handshake with that 11 year old and let them in, thus breaking the rules that your library created in the first place?  How do you decide which 11 year old is worthy of being in the Teen Library just because they’re really into something in the Teen Library?

All kinds of ages working together. Adults, tweens, and teens. I like how we all just don't give a crap how old we are and are just really into making 3D printed objects.

All kinds of ages working together. Adults, tweens, and teens. I like how we all just don’t give a crap how old we are and are just really into making 3D printed objects.

I say let’s blow up the whole damn thing and think about how we can reimagine Youth Services. Instead of dividing up our Youth Services by ages, why not focus on interest?  Do you like Legos? OK! That’s the Lego area! Wanna play video games? Sure! Anyone between the ages of 0-18 and their caregivers (I’ll get to that later) can enjoy our video games!  We can keep books divided by age because that’s really helpful but everything else? I say let’s let them all in to explore and enjoy the library.  Think less about the age and more about the interest.

2. RESPECT FOR THE PARENT/GUARDIAN/CAREGIVER CROWD
Like any good librarian that works with folks between the ages of 0-18, I sure don’t want any random adults hanging around in the same space as these kids, tweens, and teens. First up: it’s just weird to be an adult and want to randomly hang out with kids, tweens, and teens in a library.  Second: You already have awesome services directed at your age group at the library (and if you don’t, it is time to use your voice and speak up! Tell your library what you want as an adult!). And Third: WE’VE GOT TO PROTECT THE CHILDREN. The line is stale and old and we say it all the time as librarians but it is true: we have to watch out for our kids, tweens, and teens.  We are here to make their life better and safety is a huge part of that.

A son and his father and Ms. Pac Man. In a library. Together. Sharing and enjoying. So awesome.

A son and his father and Ms. Pac Man. In a library. Together. Sharing and enjoying. So awesome.

But what if you’re a parent/guardian/caregiver? Does that mean we should take you out of the picture and not let you in our Youth Services areas? Sure, we allow adults to always be in our Children’s Libraries with their kids, but we kick them out of the teen library and other areas reserved for youth.  And I’m just not into that.  As I said above, we need to think less about the age and more about the interest. So if you are setting things up in your library by interest, why not let parents/guardians/caregivers be a part of the experiences happening in the library? Let the grandmother use the 3D printer with her 11 year old granddaugther who loves Minecraft. Maybe this 6 year old boy can teach his babysitter just how to use the button maker.  The kid/tween/teen becomes the ONLY reason that the adult can be on the floor.  You wanna see all of this stuff that we have for ages 0-18? Cool! Then hang out with your kid and do things with them in the library!

On another note: Imagine a library that offered adults a library program that did the following: You come to the library. You get to have a few drinks. You get to socialize with other adults. You get to have a great night out at a great program (author talk, maker event, workshop, class, anything!).

BUT WHAT IF YOU HAVE KIDS? You have to think about childcare. How will I take care of my kids and take care of myself? By the time you are done thinking about it all you are tired so you just give up and say “well, I’ll do that some other day when the kids are older.”

Here’s where Youth Services needs to step up our games: PARALLEL PROGRAMMING. I can’t take credit for the name. Corinne Hill (this awesome lady) came up with it during a meeting.  Give something to the parents. Give something to their kids/tweens/teens at the same time. Make everyone happy at the library. It isn’t babysitting. It’s helping out your community. It’s thinking big picture.  It’s taking care of the community you serve in every possible way. The parents/guardians/caregivers get a night out and the kids/tweens/teens get to run around in a library and enjoy some great things.

This post was a little more “soap-boxey” than I usually like but when I started writing it things just came out this way. These are all just ideas.  Recommendations.  Thoughts. Try them and see what works best for you. If you don’t like it, don’t try it. I won’t be hurt!

Gender

Gender

Over the past year I’ve had the opportunity to move on up in the library. With that means greater responsibility (gotta get the payroll in on time and make the schedules!) and a bigger say in how things should be presented to the community.

One of my favorite things that I’ve got to have a say in is adding Other to our gender options for our 2014 Summer Program. It’s a small thing…I don’t know how many people will actually use this option…but I felt that it was important for it to be there.  Gender identity is an important thing for tweens and teens to think about.  When you can show tweens and teens that you care and respect their beliefs, they believe in you more.  The small things mean a lot.  Over time, they add up and lead to real change.  Here’s hoping this change will be positive for at least one person in the community.

Thank you Marigold Library System!

A big thank you to everyone at the Marigold Library System and everyone that attended their 2014 Members Workshop.  I was so honored to give the keynote for the event.  I talked about experience, community, and where libraries are heading in the 21st Century…..and I learned so much from you!

Marigold Keynote Selfie!

Marigold Keynote Selfie!

Catch Up

I haven’t had the chance to give a lot of the great events/happenings/moments going on in the world around me a proper post so I’m gonna play catch up with one great giant post full of beautiful, wonderful, and awesome things.

1)  The 2nd Floor has been busy growing!  We just hired Rebecca Zarazan Dunn and Jessie Meyer to join the team.  They’ll be working with us to keep on providing awesome things to kids, tweens, and teens.  Look for more awesome things on the horizon.

2) Last Summer, the excellent Warren Cheetham visited the USA and specifically Chattanooga to learn about Ubiquitous Superfast Broadband as part of his VALA Travel Scholarship.  It was so rad to hang out with Warren and here’s a great paper written by the man himself about his travels.  I highly suggest you read it to get a glimpse into where (some) US cities and the entire country of Australia are heading.  A brave new world indeed.

3. TRAVEL!  And lots of it.  For the first time in my life I have frequent flyer miles.  I gave my first keynote for the UNCG LIS Alumni earlier this year, the Texas Library Association Conference was one of the best I’ve ever attended, the School Library Journal Think Tank in Nashville, TN brought together some of the greatest Youth Services Librarians in our field today to talk and brainstorm about our future, and I’m heading off to Strathmore, Alberta, Canada and Baltimore, MD to give two more keynotes!  It’s so exciting to chat with so many new people and share ideas.

Here’s what it looks like from the stage.  Fun and equally terrifying stuff indeed:
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4) Back to the 2nd Floor: it is rockin’!  ZZ Top style rockin’! Megan Emery keeps pushing the boundaries of what makes up a library program with her  programs on the 2nd Floor (see this and this) and Lee, Vicki, Bev, Kaye, Olga, Emmy, and Bobbi keep adding to our stellar children’s programs with new ideas like SENSORY STORYTIME and our collaboration with the most excellent  MUSE OF FIRE project. It’s getting better all the time.  The future of Youth Services looks great and it’s just gonna keep on getting better.  Here’s the secret: it’s all about providing neat opportunities to kids, tweens, teens, and families.  Gone are the days where we divided up our populations.  Together, we can offer the world.

5) Chattanooga has loads of great visitors, and I really enjoyed meeting with the team from the Aarhaus Folkelab.  They’re offering a new outlook on what libraries can be for their community.  I especially like the gifts they gave the Chattanooga staff when they visited….multi purpose tools!  This is the new library card!  Imagine that!

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6) Life is good.  We stay in our yard a lot, tending to the garden, digging with Finn and Aero, throwing the ball to Sonic, and just enjoying life.  Chattanooga is great.  The transition to life in the South has gone well.  The transition towards more responsibility, management, and other things in the library for me has gone well.  Bumps in the road?  Yes.  Minor freak outs where I don’t believe in myself?  Of course.  But like everything in life, we will all get to where we need to get to.

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I think that is all I have for now. I am most likely missing something big but that means I can just write another post sooner.  Everyone should listen to the first three ZZ Top albums.

Love, Justin

 

 

 

(UPDATE 4/10/14) TXLA Making Stuff with Teens

Quick post to share my slides!  I’ll update later with more context.

UPDATE: I wanted to add a bit more to this post since all that it is are a bunch of photos that really make no sense unless you were there.  Here’s the deal: the makerspace movement isn’t new.  Youth Services librarians have been making and creating for years.  It can be as simple as duct tape and construction paper or you can take it all the way to the 3D printer.  What’s true is this: Youth Services librarians have been doing it for ages in a variety of forms and this is a good moment for our population to stand up and say, “yes, this is what we’ve done and this is how we’re leading the change.”

Why is this important?  In my 8 (!) years in this profession, I’ve heard a lot of librarians who work with youth (ages 0-18) say that they don’t feel like they get the respect they deserve for the things they do, that so many people brush off their work as “well, they work with the kids and they love the kids and that’s who they are and that’s who they’ll always be.”  I’ve never bought into that in my career.  I’ve always believed that Youth Services librarians have been leading the change and pushing forward with innovation.  I believe that this is a great moment for youth services librarians: this is our moment to grow up a little bit and change the way we’re seen and the way we work.