When I started out as the first teen services librarian at my current library, I took with me the 40 Fundamental Assets for Adolescents. I had a lot of these in the back of mind as I planned my approach to my new library (mainly 3, 7, 8, 18, and 25).
A couple months after I was hired, a teen volunteer I met was talking about an issue that I had also gone through as a teen. I knew exactly what she was going through and told her I understood and that it was hard. Not long after that, another teen approached me while I was putting away manga and told me that she straightened them out each time she came in to the library. I told her she should get some credit for this and she was a volunteer the next day. She is now a student shelver and wants to become a librarian.
Summer programs can reach teens who were unaware the library had regular teen programming. It was after my first summer reading program that I knew the welcoming environment the teens and I had created would appeal to more teens. They realized that I, and the other teens, wanted to hear what they had to say.
As time went on, I realized that simple statements I had said in passing during the summer programs made an impact: “You are so smart. Anyone who reads as much as you do is smart,”. Teens started coming into the library after school. It was the first day of school a couple of years ago when I realized a few of the teens needed a place to study other than the floor in my office. I’ve talked about how this became a support group
Teens trusted me and asked me to look over their papers. We talked about colleges, majors, jobs. I was another adult who cared; I wrote letters of recommendation, was in their corner and who valued them as people. The first teens I met graduated three years ago. The first members of the teen advisory group graduated in 2016. It’s fitting that I am also moving on. Not all the teens are, and a few asked me if I will still be around. I will always be there for them and make sure they are supported.