The following post was written by Jenny Bloom, Interim Teen Services Librarian at the Bainbridge Island location of Kitsap Regional Library.
Teens are integral part of our library community. At my location on Bainbridge Island, they include our BiblioTec intern who has great self-direction skills, members of our Teen Community Conversations group who are helping us stay relevant, and our drop-in weekly volunteers who come to organize carts of books but inevitably end up pitching in with so much more.
Our teen volunteers step up and get busy with whatever the task at hand, but where they shine brightest is when we can design something together. For example, we are currently working on our 2ndArt After Dark Program in partnership with the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. Building on last year's event, a teen advisory board is working together and with Library and Museum staff to create a memorable experience for their peers. At our most recent meeting, the teens brought ideas, and know-how. They asked great questions to determine the possibilities, and left committed to doing the work to make this year’s event even better.
I often hear adults discuss teens with a critical tone. Sometimes in the Library space, there can be tension between adults and teens working side-by-side;. Teens and tweens are more likely to be shushed by adult patrons than adults are shushed. But when it comes to work-ethic and creative problem solving, their insight and fresh view can’t be beat. In busy times, when my work load feels large, our volunteers are a really important addition to our staff. Yes for the work they complete, but often, equally for their optimism, positivity and playfulness.