LITT: Teens

Teen and tween services in libraries can be tricky – they don’t fit the traditional early learning model and they aren’t always welcome in adult spaces. During the LITT: Teens chats we will discuss how to serve a teen audience and create programs that are meaningful for this age group.

The Idaho Libraries Teen Services listserv is a great way to stay connected between chats. Check out our listserv guidelines before posting.

Subscribe to the Idaho Library Teen Services listserv:

Our next LITT: Teens chat will be held during the in July.

Notes from Past LITT: Teens Chats

Thanks to everyone who was able to make it to last week’s LITT: Teens – Creating Welcoming Spaces discussion. Here are some of the highlights:

  • We used these words to describe our ideal teen spaces: Welcoming, Safe, Relaxed, Chill, Comfortable, Fun, Engaging, Exciting, Colorful, Multi-Use
  • Challenges to creating a welcoming space for teens include lack of physical library space, funding, and getting buy-in from other staff. Also, noise.
  • Teen spaces should be fun and functional – make sure to include charging stations for devices (including USB ports!), comfortable seating, and cool lighting fixtures (like a chandelier)
  • If you can’t paint your space, look for posters or art that would appeal to teens
  • Include passive programs in the space to give teens something to do or a reason to hang out – try magnetic poetry, spirographs, coloring books, chess sets, or an interactive bulletin board/white board
  • Don’t get discouraged! It may take a while for teens to find the space and start using it
  • If you can, try to locate your space next to the Teen collection, and not so close to high-use adult collections (like Large Print)
  • Check out these sound-reducing tiles that the Ada – Lake Hazel branch is considering and this style of chair that is versatile and works well with small spaces
  • Have you thought about co-designing the space with teens in your community?

Our discussion kept circling back to the topic of getting staff buy-in for offering teen services and how to train staff to work with teens. We will explore this idea more during our next LITT: Teens chat in May.

Thanks to everyone who attended yesterday’s LITT: Teen Services chat on Teen Advisory Boards (TAB). We had a nice mix of librarians who have successful and engaged boards and those who are looking to start one. My main takeaway from the discussion is that building relationships with teens will contribute to their success on a TAB, and that sometimes you need to push them to accept leadership roles. While many TAB’s focus on producing library programs, there is a trend toward engaging in service-based activities that help the community. We also briefly discussed how to set healthy boundaries with teens and creating welcoming spaces. Here are some of the links shared during the chat:

The topic for this chat was a discussion of the Field Guide for Preparing to Support Communities in Crisis. As Idaho moves through the COVID-19 pandemic, are there ideas from the Field Guide that can help you serve the teens in your community?

We had a great discussion on how to use parts of the field guide to improve services to teens. The community asset mapping and program assessment tools were noted as being particularly helpful.

Thanks to everyone who attended last week’s LITT Chat on Teens and Summer Reading. Here are some of the highlights from the discussion:

  • We started with introductions and a brief description of what everyone is doing for teen summer reading this year:
    • The Ashton Library (Fremont County) is offering scratch tickets for prizes
    • Some libraries aren’t sure what to do this year or are not doing a teen-specific program
    • Hansen will likely give gift certificates to Barnes and Nobles as the grand prizes for a summer teen reading program.
    • Burley: Weekly Prizes: McDonalds Donations -Burgers and Fries; Stokes -donuts ; Lava Hot Springs- Passes; Burgers ect – ice cream cones; local donations; weekly drawing from coffee and soda shops ($10) giftcards
    • Community Library Network: We are not having teen take-home kits this summer since our programs will be in-person. We will give out prizes for our one virtual trivia night program. SRP prizes include journals, stickers, food coupons, candy, and books.
    • Ada is doing 2 teen kits a month, so the kits we’re doing are, sewing kits, a Zine kit, a bottle cap pendant kit, and a DIY Travel pet snuffle mat kit.. Ada Lake Hazel is doing REALLY CUTE buttons with literary characters as animals. Then of course a book at the end. We are also doing “break-in bags” where they solve riddles to unlock the lock and break into the bag of goodies.
    • Idaho Falls: Teens are earning prizes every seven days that they log their reading. There are three different levels depending on days logged. Level One (7, 14, 21 days) can choose a prize from soda, snacks, candy, gum, lip balms, Sharpies, Post Its. Level Two is choice of local sponsor coupons. Level Three is a tote or tshirt. They get books along the way, too.
    • Coeur d’Alene: Teen Zone Take-Out Kits (various crafts, such as Friendship Bracelets, Geometric Decor, etc), Teen Zone Book Boxes (includes said craft, 2 books, and small gift). I have punchcards, too. Read 4; get the 5th free.
  • We talked about ways to communicate and reach out to teens over the summer:
    • QR codes on fliers are a good way to direct folks to electronic programs/resources
    • Chatted a bit about TikTok for libraries, especially for book talks. Eric Hovey (Ada Community Library) likes following these libraries/librarians on TikTok:
      • Doverpubliclibrary
      • Maricopalibrary
      • Kathyellendavis
      • Caitsbooks
    • ALA recently did a webinar on marketing that might be useful:
  • We gave advice/support and shared some additional resources:
  • We talked a bit about how many teens have jobs and that many libraries are rebuilding their teen groups. A perennial problem as teens age out of library programs. We may revisit this topic later.

Thanks to everyone who was able to join the Teen Services LITT chat last week. Here are some highlights/useful links from our discussion on virtual programs for teens:

Attendees shared what they learned at fall virtual conferences, including the ION Power Up Summit, ILA Annual Conference, and YALSA Symposium.

Questions or comments about LITT: Teens chats? Contact Jennifer.


LITT: Latinx – Collection Development

July 14, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm MDT

LITT: Neurodiverse

July 22, 10:00 am - 11:00 am MDT

LITT: Academic Library Community

July 26, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm MDT

LITT: Adult Services

August 9, 10:00 am - 11:00 am MDT

LITT: Academic Library Community

October 25, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm MDT

LITT: Academic Library Community

January 24, 2023, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm UTC+0

LITT: Academic Library Community

April 25, 2023, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm UTC+0

Jennifer Redford

Youth Services Consultant
Email / 208-639-4147
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