I’ll be honest, I’m a stats queen. I LOVE them and keep them on almost everything. In the past, I’ve waved them around and exclaimed LOOK HOW WELL WE’RE DOING, ISN’T THE TEEN DEPARTMENT AWESOME?!
But then this year hit and I found my numbers not going up, but down. Granted, it wasn’t a big dip, but not what I’m used to. And all my marketing and thinking outside the box doesn’t seem to make a difference. We’re holding steady right now, but I had to admit the teen department is in a lull and that we needed fresh blood. Of course, that lead into me asking, does this really mean we’re failing?
The answer is yes and no. We’re not growing, so yes, that’s a bit of a failure, but numbers don’t tell the whole story. That’s when I turned to the 40 developmental assets; something that had been in the back of my mind, but not something I’d be concentrating on. Sure, maybe a craft program only had 3 teens, but in that time those 3 teens formed a new bond with an adult and explored their creative side. So, if those 3 teens are getting something out of a program that betters their life, isn’t that a success as well?
The 40 developmental assets are a great tool to use when looking at your programs and determining if they’re succeeding or not. In fact, there’s a great post on Teen Librarian Toolbox that breaks down how many assets most of us are probably using at most, if not all, our programs. Our goal as Teen Librarians should not be just to draw in large crowds to make us (and our libraries) look good. I’m sure most of you would agree that we got into this area of service because we wanted to make a difference in teen lives. I know that’s the main reason I picked Teen Services and why I stay even when I hit one frustrating wall after another. Isn’t it time to really look at the ways we’re shaping the futures of our teen patrons and call that a success as well? It’s amazing when I stop and think about all the little things how different my perspective on successes and failures change!
And while I still a firm believer in stats, they can’t be the be all end all. It’s the personal stories, the teen excitement, and the developmental needs being met that help the whole picture form. I hope you’ll join me in allowing these things change you’re view on what you think about success.