YS Newsletter #13, January 2009
Topic of the Month: Teen Advisory Groups
Teen Advisory Groups (TAGs), also known as Teen Advisory Boards (TABs), can be a real benefit to teens in your community, and also to your library.
What are TAGs?
TAGs are groups designed to energize teen programming and services as well as allow teens a greater voice at the library. They show teens that they’re important and that they can contribute in a meaningful way; they also address developmental needs of teens. In addition, they help give librarians the important teen perspective. You can:
- get valuable ideas for teen programming and collections from your TAG
- have your TAG members volunteer in the library doing all sorts of useful tasks
- discuss YA books with teens and have them write up recommendations for their peers
- have fun and make teens feel comfortable in your library
What a TAG looks like is really up to you. Ages are often 13 or 14 to 18, and you can start with just a few interested teens. With those first participants, select a regular meeting time, such as the first Tuesday of every month from 4:00 to 5:00. One or two staff should supervise, but you do not need a YA librarian or even a youth services librarian to have a TAG!
How do I attract TAG members?
- Talk with the teens that already frequent your library; they’re probably your best bet for starting up the group
- Ask teens who are interested to talk it up to their friends; peer-to-peer advertising is one of the best marketing tools for teens
- Put up a poster or make an appealing display in your teen area and put flyers at the circulation or reference desk
- Contact your local high school; ask teachers and the school librarian to pass out flyers and ask to speak at an assembly
- Ask to put flyers in teen traffic areas, such as stores and restaurants popular with teens
- Contact organizations like churches, Boy and Girls Scouts, YMCAs, and homeschooling groups and tell them about your TAG; ask them to spread the word
- Write an article for your library’s newsletter and post it also on your website
- Advertise the TAG on computer screen savers
- Invite teens and older children who signed up for last summer’s Summer Reading Program
- Send press releases to your local paper
- In all of these methods, let teens know that being an active TAG member will look great on college and job applications
What does a TAG meeting look like?
- As meeting facilitator, agree on ground rules upfront with the teens’ input. Let teens discuss what’s on their minds and listen to them. Guide them when necessary.
- Have an agenda, but be flexible to give teens time to explore areas away from the topics at hand. Agenda items may include selecting graphic novels for the collection, planning a teen program on blogging, decorating the library for a holiday, discussing their favorite YA books, etc.
- Have something tactile and fun to do (and useful to the library), like preparing craft materials for an upcoming children’s program, putting together a puzzle, stuffing and labeling envelopes for a big mailing, designing bookmarks, etc.
- Have food available, if at all possible! It doesn’t have to be expensive. To borrow a great idea from Mesa Public Library in Los Alamos, cook ramen noodles in a crockpot—it’s cheap, easy, and teens love it! Or, have snacks available for a small fee, or invite teens to bring in food to share—could be snacks or a whole potluck meal. For a treat, ask a local pizza place to donate pizzas a few times a year for a couple of the meetings.
- Ask the teens for agenda and discussion items.
- Be prepared for participants to come to meetings irregularly or late and be flexible.
- Play music in the background from your collection.
- Once or twice a year, do something fun with the group to let them know that you and the library appreciate their time and ideas. Take them on a field trip, throw a pizza party, hold a costume party on Halloween, etc. Write an article for the local paper, your website, and your newsletter about the great work they’ve done.
What can TAG members do in between meetings?
- Keep in touch with members via email, a blog, a MySpace or Facebook page, and/or instant messaging. Suggest the TAG set up a blog or MySpace or Facebook page for themselves!
- Ask members to volunteer in the library between meetings. Ask what they’re interested in helping with, but also feel free to assign them tasks. Be creative with what they can do. Just a few ideas: they can tutor, decorate the library, shelve books, make or update a website or blog, teach classes to other teens, help with children’s craft programs, help with book sales, make flyers, help with mailings, help plan and lead summer reading activities, lead book discussions, choose YA books and music to purchase, create library podcasts and vidcasts, conduct a local history project, create booklists, raise money for the TAG or a charity, plan a talent show or other special program for all ages, etc.
- Encourage them simply to come to the library—and bring their friends!
TAG resources for more info:
- Teen Advisory Boards: Challenges, Benefits and Opportunities
- Teen Advisory Groups: A list of print and digital resources for anyone interested in forming and sustaining a teen advisory group
- Teen Advisory Groups: A wiki from YALSA
- Library teen advisory groups by Diane P. Tuccillo, VOYA Books, 2005. (available through ILL from the State Library!)
- TAGAD-L Electronic Discussion Group - A discussion forum for the advisors of any public library teen advisory group or board
Please share your ideas, successes, questions, and challenges about TAGs! Send your comments to me or hit “Reply to All” on the email this came in to get a discussion going.
State Library Updates and Announcements
- Be on the lookout for great spring workshops from the Georgia O’Keefe Museum! The State Library is working with the museum to provide additional summer reading training sessions, as well as workshops on the Picturing America exhibit. Stay tuned—more info coming soon!
- Upcoming newsletter topics:
February: El Día de Los Niños (April 30)
March: National Poetry Month (April)
Please contribute any materials, tips, questions, and comments you have on these topics to be included in the newsletters!
Resources and Opportunities
- Recruitment for the second cohort of the New Mexico Youth Alliance is ongoing. The New Mexico Youth Alliance, established in 2003, is a statewide advisory group of youth that meets regionally 4 times a year to discuss issues, concerns, and policies that impact youth throughout the state of New Mexico. Youth ages 14 - 24 are encouraged to apply. Applications are available at the New Mexico Forum for Youth in Community Offices, located at 924 Park Avenue SW, Suite D in Albuquerque, or online at http://www.nmforumforyouth.org/youth_alliance.htm. Please contact Lanny Leyba at (505) 821-3574 or
for more info.
(While you’re at the website, check out the NM Out-of-School Time Network page at http://www.nmforumforyouth.org/nmostn_loa.htm; several NM libraries are involved, and Flo Trujillo from the Farmington Public Library is introduced as a speaker at a recent event!)
- The Nothing But the Best: Professional Standards for Youth Services in Public Libraries in New York State report, http://www.nyla.org/content/user_12/NYS2006Standards.pdf, published in 2006, includes useful advice on good youth services practice supported by strong professional principles. This document can be used as a guide for planning and evaluating local libraries’ services by youth services librarians, administrators, trustees, local government officials, and community members.
- Registration is open for YALSA’s 3 winter online courses: Booktalks Quick and Simple; Boys and Books: Encouraging Early Teen and Tween Boys to Read; and Power Programming for Teens. All meet for 4 weeks and begin Feb. 9. Each course costs $135 for YALSA members, $175 for ALA members, and $195 for nonmembers. To read course descriptions and register, please visit http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/yalsa/onlinecourses/info.cfm.
- A recent article in the Washington Post discusses the controversy over the Newbery Medal program: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/15/AR2008121503293.html
- In partnership with Nordstrom, Friends of Libraries USA (FOLUSA) is awarding 20 grants for $500 each with a $1,000 required match to selected Friends groups to purchase Books for Babies kits from FOLUSA. Applicants agree to order a minimum of $1,500 worth of Books for Babies kits, of which FOLUSA will pay $500. Thus, the minimum commitment from applicants is $1,000. Applications for Cycle 1 are due April 1, 2009. Recipients will be notified by April 15, and kits must be ordered by June 1, 2009. For more info and to apply, see http://www.folusa.org/outreach/bfbgrants.php. (Congrats to the Friends of the Village of Ruidoso Library, who received this grant last year!)
- ALA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, and the U.S. Department of Education’s Safe and Drug Free Schools recently partnered to provide all public libraries with a copy of the Stop Bullying Now! DVD Took Kit. The Tool Kit was mailed to all public libraries in December. For additional material and bullying prevention resources, visit the Stop Bullying Now! Campaign Web site, http://www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/index.asp. How are you using your tool kit? Let me know and I’ll share your responses in a future newsletter!
- Teen Tech Week 2009 is March 8-14; the 2009 theme is Press Play @ your library. Register here on the YALSA website by February 8 to receive free access to the Teen Health & Wellness database from Feb. 18 – March 27!
Beth Crist, Library Development Bureau Director