Last June, as the new Teen Services librarian in Montrose, I knew I wanted teens to have a voice in library decisions. What I didn’t know was how to make that happen.
Luckily, I met the library’s Teen Advisory Board (TAB) on Zoom and discovered that their ideas for adapting library services were a thousand times better than my own.
Meme contests, clever displays, a booming book club, popular trivia categories (and amazingly sophisticated trivia slideshows), and comprehensive manga requests — I continually have been impressed by the originality of teens’ ideas and their willingness to implement improvements.
To that end, two TAB members will expound on the importance of teen involvement, and do it more eloquently than I ever could.
Youth involvement with the library is essential; it bridges the gaps between children and adults.
Having a voice for teens is important because while there is often one for kids and adults, there is rarely one for teens.
When I moved to Montrose four years ago, most library programming was for children and adults.
Now, after over a year in operation with TAB, it would be hard to miss the advertisements for our book clubs, trivia, writing meetings, and other events.
TAB provides a place for teens to share their opinions and practice leadership in a nontraditional setting.
We are given opportunities to learn important skills such as planning and coordinating events, programming, and creating budgets.
Not everything we do is business, though. We tend to have a decent bit of fun with things like book recommendations, icebreakers and participating in the trivia events.
My hopes are that we will continue to provide a safe place in Montrose for youth to gather as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
We are in the process of enhancing the Teen Space in the library, which will provide space for teens to relax, work on homework, read, or simply hang out with their friends.
I hope to see teen programming in person before the start of the next school year. In the meantime, we have plenty of exciting programs in the upcoming months, including our teen summer reading program kicking off on June 1st.
My experience with the Teen Advisory Board has been challenging yet productive. I joined in January 2020 during its inception because I had ideas about how the library programs could be better tailored for teens.
TAB allowed me to provide input and develop my teamwork skills.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 derailed many events, but we adapted to the changing world, working around today’s obstacles instead of discontinuing TAB.
We moved some events online, such as photo and story contests, but we are also renovating the Teen Space and hosting recommendation shelves with stories suggested by TAB and book club members!
My hope for the future is that we will get more teens participating in both TAB and our programs.
One big upcoming event I’m also looking forward to is our teen literary magazine, in which we’ll collect stories from the Montrose teen community, design the magazine, and then print it for patrons to enjoy.
Amy Dickinson is the Teen Services librarian; Morgan Byard and Nathan Mathieu are members of the Teen Advisory Board.