Sometime in 2014 I decided I would move on from teen services in a couple of years. I can’t remember the exact moment or what lead up to it, but I knew 2016 would be the year to make the change. It wasn’t that I didn’t love my job, it was just that I knew I was in the midst of something special with the teens I was working with and I would probably never have that again. And I love new challenges!
When I started working at my library in 2011, it was the first week of summer reading program and I was the first teen services person they ever had. There wasn’t a program for teens and I spent the summer getting to know my new community and meeting the teen volunteers. In the fall, I started to recruit my own volunteers and began planning programming for the spring of 2012. I held my first Teen Advisory Group meeting on February 25, 2012. I had only a handful of teens show up to the meeting, but I was thrilled. One teen boy was so shy, he actually looked pained each time he had to answer a question. Today, he talks to me all the time and makes sure to stop in, let me know when he can and can not volunteer, and asked me to text him when the summer reading program supplies come in so he can help sort. He graduates this year.
Since that first meeting, the teen program has grown, gaining and losing teens along the way. They have planned or had a say in every teen program since 2012. In 2013 and 2014 they planned their own programs from scratch. 2013 saw them creating their own murder mystery with clues and videos. They attempted to replicate it in 2014, but it fell apart so hard that I had to scale it way down. It was this semi-failure that made me realize in the following two years, I would be losing six teens to college after summer 2015 and four more after summer 2016.
In the fall of 2014 I helped four of six teens with the college application process. I made sure they had access to computers and the internet. I read essays and offered feedback. I knew I would have to help more teens the next fall. In early 2015, there was a chance to move up to branch manager, but I knew it wasn’t the right fit for me. A couple of months later, I was asked to take on more responsibilities. In the fall, there was a promotional opportunity; it was a better fit for me than being a branch manager and it worked with the timeline I had had in my head back in 2014. I started my new position the last week of December 2015. It was the perfect opportunity for me to move forward and make a change in my career without having to completely uproot everything.
This summer will be my last summer reading program and I am nearing the end of regular teen programs. I thought I would be more emotional, but so far I am not. It could hit me as my last group of original teens leave for college. Or maybe it will hit me after summer reading program ends, when I am too tired to move.
In the four years I have done programming I met many teens. Two sets of sisters. Best friends who aren’t anymore. Friends who became best friends. I’ve seen a lot. Watched in-dating, breakups, and crushes happen. One of the first teens I met almost five years ago sent me a text this week. I wrote a letter of recommendation for a teen that graduated last year. I get monthly emails from the teen who joined the army last summer.
So while I am moving on, I feel like I will still help and support the teens. I am very lucky my current library system wanted to promote me and give me a chance in a new position at a time when I was ready for the next step.