Generally, this blog wants to offer programming ideas. However, we are librarians serving teens. We write this blog for anyone serving teens (in any capacity). How often do you consider the needs of your community and the teens you serve? We are often willing to share how an activity failed, for us. There are any number of reasons a program fails, but sometimes, it is just because our teens aren’t particularly interested in it. Repeat visitors may find great success with a program we might never do again, and may find great failure where we found great success.
This isn’t a post to give you tips for understanding your community. Although, I am sure many of us MLS learned about community assessment reports. Maybe your library has even done one recently. Look at it. Offer evaluations after a program.
The main point of this post (luckily this is a blog and I can bury the lede with abandon): Observe. What do you see from your teens everyday? Is there a void you can fill? This doesn’t have to include programming. For instance, our local high school gives a laptop to every student. We noticed pretty quickly that this led to cords … everywhere. I looked into ways to fix this, including tables with outlets on them. These tended to be a bit expensive. So we bought some power strips and some extension cords and hooked up some existing tables. We also have a place to plug in in our graphic novel room.
It is likely, if you serve teenagers in 2015, that most of them have phones (at the very least iPods or iPads (or a similar tablet)). You may have also seen the scenario of an embarrassed teen having to explain to an angry parent that their phone died. Recently, we built our own charging stations, which required finding some cables and a housing unit to protect them (and keep them from walking off). Below are pictures of attempts 1 and 2. They have been super popular. We have found the best start includes: This tiny 10-port charging station & braided cords. There is probably a better way to house the unit, but we just use wooden boxes. There are great options available that don’t require you to build something that looks varying amounts of DIY, but we liked ours.