If your title is “Youth Services Librarian” or something similar, you probably are in charge of more than just Teens at your library.
If you are like me, and your official title is Assistant Director / Head of Youth Services – then like me, you may be currently in physical therapy after severely pulling (tearing!) all of the muscles in your neck and shoulders from stress! (true story!)
Regardless of how many titles you may or may not have, splitting your time can be difficult to manage. When it comes to spending precious work hours on programming, I have to admit that more of my time ends up going to Children’s services. This is probably for several reasons:
- Programming for children is easier – you may disagree, but I’ve been doing this for 15 years and for me, it’s true. Little kids are pretty much excited to do anything with a glue stick and older kids, while slightly more difficult, are still easy to please with games and fun crafts.
- Most libraries rely on program attendance numbers and as we know, it can be kind of hard (understatement) to get teens to come to programs.
- My office is in the Children’s Room. Not only that, but the Teen Space in my library is on a different floor. I don’t usually have a ton of time to spend in the Teen Space, especially when all my stuff is downstairs, plus there are times when I’m on the desk if we are short-staffed.
- To the kids at my library, I am “Miss Molly” and that comes with lots of hugs and smiles and instant emotional rewards. To the teens, I’m the teen librarian who thinks she’s younger than she is and also kind of a dork (in the best sense, of course.) Sometimes the most I get is an awkward smile.
Teen programming is hard. That’s why this blog exists! And that’s why we rely on this community to help brainstorm. Starting this school year, I am going to make a conscious effort to balance my time more evenly between the teens and kids. I am extremely lucky to have a Youth Services Assistant and she’s AMAZING. But I have a really hard time delegating and one of my “New School Year” resolutions is to pass off more of my workload to her because I know she can handle it. I am also going to try to carve out specific days and times during the week where I spend dedicated time to Teen programming, collection development, and my Teen Volunteer program. Ideally, I would like to take my laptop to the Teen Space and do my work there during a time when teens might be in so I can get to know more of them. This depends on staffing in the Children’s Room, but I feel like its really important for the teens to see me and associate me with the library, not just as the person who forwards them emails about programs. Lastly, I’ve been doing more with my Trello boards and I am hoping that a visual comparison of my programming for kids vs. teens will force me to work on more organized and balanced programming.
If you work with children and teens at your library, what strategies do you have in place for splitting your time effectively? Please share in the comments!