Thinking about the future of Teen Services

Recently, I was asked what my thoughts on the current state of Teen Services in the library were.  I replied:

So I’ve been a teen librarian since 2007.  At that time, it felt like teen services were really a one person show.  Libraries found someone who were passionate about working with teens, breaking down boundaries, and just wanted to do exciting things.

However, there’s only so far one person can go.  After that, you have to start collaborating and building a team.  I think that’s where it’s heading right now.  Teen Services will be less about one teen librarian working alone and doing amazing things and instead we’ll see Teen Services become something bigger…more people working together to do awesome things.

Less solitary teen librarians doing amazing things, more teams of amazing people coming together and doing amazing things for teens!  Seriously, I think collaboration is key.  Look at The Beatles.  Of course, all of their solo careers were super awesome.  They made some great music.  But think about the music they made together as The Beatles.  I mean, they’re THE BEATLES!  Great things can happen when you get amazing people together.  Libraries should bring amazing people together and see what happens.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot and I’ve pretty much convinced myself that this is the best way forward.  But just saying these things is one thing and doing them is another.  You’ve gotta come up with a plan.  Here’s my attempt at a plan:

One of the big reasons why I chose to join the team at the Chattanooga Public Library was because the library and the city are focused on investing in awesome things.  Let me tell you a bit about that:

To quote The Gig City website:
Chattanooga is the first city in the Western Hemisphere to offer one-gigabit-per-second fiber internet service to all residents and businesses. At 200 times the speed of the national average, the Gig opens the door to unimagined ways of learning, playing and conducting business.

Investing in the infrastructure to create a one-gigabit-per-second fiber internet service shows that the people in this community care and want to make the most of the place they’re living in.

This is the approach that the Chattanooga Public Library is taking as well.  Our director Corrine Hill is bringing together amazing people from all around with one simple goal: do awesome stuff for the community.  One of the greatest things about my new job is joining the team in place in Chattanooga and working together to do something really amazing.

Investing: To me, that’s key.  Surround yourself with the people you want to work with and…

Fiber internet service doesn’t happen overnight.  It took a lot of thought, planning, and a big gamble on Chattanooga’s part to have this in place.  So where do you want your teen library to be in the next few years?  Think about that and set yourself on that path.  Work with what is best for your institution and your community.

Don’t think that the future of the teen library is one sided.  It isn’t all about JUST making stuff, reading, hanging out, playing video games, and more.  It’s about all of these things together.  Don’t forget about any group of patrons.  Each one of them need us.

Always remember to smile and have an open heart.  We work in libraries, one of the most awesome places in the world.  We get to surround ourselves with great people and we get to do great things.  Remember that!


  1. […] Justin wrote a great blog post today musing on the future of Teen Services in libraries. He sees a model of good Teen Librarianship being teams of awesome people collaborating together. It can’t be a one-man show. How can libraries do this? He writes: […]

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