Even for the Faint of
Getting Teens to Participate
in a Teen Advisory
Get teens in the library
- Ask them!
- Be prepared
to write down names, phone numbers, and email addresses
- Approach teens and
offer them comment cards.
- Approach teens and ask for suggestions for materials. We can't buy everything, but find a way to say "YES!"
- Hand teens flyers
and ask if they'd be interested.
- Post flyers and sign
up sheets! where teens will see them. Make sure all staff members
know to whom to give the sign up sheets or refer an interested teen!
- at the teen computers
- next to the water
- in YA books
- in bathrooms
- at YA book shelves
- under flap of photocopy
- on teens' tables
- Make a display in the
YA area! Including...
- photos or collage
of things the group has done or things the group can do
- sign up sheets
- reprints of newspaper
- who to ask for more
- web site address
- email address of
- dates of future
- survey for teens
to fill out
- future projects
- books reflecting
positive teen images
- Add meetings to the
library's events calender!
- Add articles in the
- Advertise the TAG
computers that use screen savers!
- on library
produced teen reading lists!
- Announce that the TAG is accepting new members at all teen programs. Alternately, you could take
a sign in sheet and send out invitations to join.
- Invite former volunteers from children's summer reading program join
- Invite all participants
in the teen summer reading program!
Get teens outside the library
- Contact school and community
agencies to see if they would nominate someone to serve and/or post flyers
about the group.
- Boys and Girls Club
- Boy Scouts
- Church youth groups
- Girl Scouts
- Home schooling organizations
- Junior division
of coin or stamp collecting clubs
- Junior high and
high school librarians and guidance counselors (public and parochial)
- Salvation Army
- Make school and agency
visits so you become a familiar face.
- Send out press releases
and public service announcements. This gets the parents who would like their
children to join.
- Request TAG articles in schools'
- Post information on
the library's web site!
- Participate at volunteer
fairs or activities fairs at the local high school or elsewhere
- Attend junior or senior
high school orientations to promote services including the TAG
- Enlist enthusiastic recruiters! When the group does
something in the community, take along sign up sheets! Also try to arrange local press
coverage so teens and their parents can see what the TAG really does!
Before the First Meeting
- Schedule time to meet with interested teens! Be prepared to offer food :)
- Phone calls: Teens
are hard to catch at home! Beware lost messages!
- Letters: Mail merge database can change frequently! Beware postal costs!
- Postcards: Can't attach agenda! Beware carpal tunnel syndrome!
- Email: Speak their language! Attach the agenda! Set up a YA listserv in your address book!
- Set the agenda and send
it out early!
- Send a reminder e-mail!
- Feed them!
- Consider background
music to fill uncomfortable
silences. Alternate the DJ!
- Introductions are important! The book Recreation Handbook for Camp, Conference,
and Community by Roger E. Barrows has some terrific ice breaker suggestions.
- Flexible Agendas are a must! Leave with room for tangents.
- Doing is better than
talking! Don't fall into the rut of over-talking about issues unless that's what the TAG members want! Try to have a project ready no matter how
- Prepare ground
rules and a mission statement. That could be the project for the first
meeting. Ask the teens what they would like to do.
Projects for the
Encourage participation. Try a brainstorming session.
Every group is different.
- Write a mystery to
perform for children!
- Dramatize some children's
stories and perform them!
- Where Do You Get
- Make items to sell to
benefit local charities or families in need!
- Help with the library's large projects! Mailing projects or assembly
line work is perfect.
- Rearrange or shift
books/furniture (be sure they're physically able and willing)
- Create displays!
- Gather data from
- Design or update a library
- Discuss books, movies, theater, anything!
- Improve an existing
program with a brainstorming session
- Make props for dramatizations
- Create a mock game show
programs for children (take inspiration from Trivial Pursuit, Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy)
- Choose paperbacks, CDs, DVDs
- Develop a list of
TV shows, musicians and/or authors teens would enjoy
- Choose posters
- Brain-storm display ideas
- Create bookmarks and
posters using the teens as models and a catchy phrase (e.g. "Normal Teens Read" in Normal, IL)
- Write & Produce
television commercials for the library
- Write & Record
PSAs for the library
- Suggest pathfinder
needs for homework and read alike lists for leisure reading
- Brain-storm topical programming
- Write book reviews
to be used in the library
- Create a teen
- Design or fine tune
a teen summer reading program
- Give library tours
- Read stories to children
at holiday or community festivals
- Decorate or redecorate
the YA area
- Greet, usher,
and hand out refreshments at children's or adults' programs
Follow up and maintain the group
- If the teens make suggestions,
act on them. Then show them how they made a difference.
For instance, if they suggested posters for the library, show them which were chosen and ask for help putting them on display.
- The meetings will be
a great place for the teens to ask reference questions. Get back to them as
soon as possible.
- Remember their reading
interests and tote along books that may strike their fancies.
- Invite them to bring friends
to the meetings.
- Have meetings regularly.
- Create a flexible atmosphere
where teens can miss meetings, arrive late, and stop coming. If they
stop coming to the meetings, still greet them with a smile the next
time you see them in the library or elsewhere.
- Learn participants' names and use them when you see members in and out of the library!
Prepared by Lisa Matte
for The Elusive YAs: Getting Teens to Use the Library presented at Mid-York
Library System headqarters in Utica, NY on March 14, 2001.
Updated by Lisa Matte for
Even for the Faint of Heart: Getting Teens to Participate in a Teen Advisory
Group presented at Jervis Public Library in Rome, NY on November 7, 2001.
Print and distribute for
educational use is allowed as long as the author's name remains on the document.
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Updated 5/21/10 by KDV