If They Build it, They Will Come

While reading about the YOUmedia article, I kept thinking about my time as a Teen Library Associate. Teen Library Associate was my first professional library job and during that time, getting teens to become more involved with the library was a constant struggle. There were a few devotees but for the most part, they came if they had to or were trying to escape something. We had a Teen Advisory Board, but there was one problem: The teens would come up with excellent ideas but they would be filtered through the adult lens taking away from the inherent “awesomeness” of the ideas.

“It wasn’t like, ‘We’re going to make a decision, and then it’s going to go to the adults and they’re going to make the real decision,’ ” said Brad Levin, who got involved with the board last September. “Our decision would be final, and that’s why everyone was really passionate about it.”

The above quote really hit me in the gut because I knew this was the reason the Teen Advisory Board membership began to dwindle. There’s a part of me that feels like I failed them.

Years later, I’m still in contact with some of our die-hard teen library users, and watching many of them become change makers. Seeing what they have become and are becoming, I still wish we could have implemented their ideas. I’m sure the Teen Library would have have become not only popular but well used as any other project they had a hand in did so very well.

Giving our patrons power to decide how libraries will evolve is your best bet for survival.

3 thoughts on “If They Build it, They Will Come

  1. Hi Angela,

    Great post with a real world scenario. It is too bad that we can take the “awesomeness” out of ideas. It reminded me of when I worked in an academic library. We encouraged student workers to use their creativity to enhance the space with great displays. Most of the time we would let them soar. Sometimes, there were people who would edit display ideas into oblivion. Watching the excitement drain from someone’s face is so painful. 🙁 I know that we can do better for library users and library volunteers. Thanks for the interesting take on the module readings. 🙂

  2. This hurt a bit to read that you lost teens because they realized their participation didn’t really count. I hope we can all learn from this. Perhaps you will carry this into your practice and future leadership. 🙂 Think of what you teens could do without constraints!

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