Teen spirit: How to get teens back to the library
As the summer comes to a close and teens are returning from vacations and family trips, what can libraries do to make sure their young-adult readers stop by for a visit—and then keep coming back?
School Library Journal’s Karen Jensen has some valuable suggestions. Essentially, Jensen explains that libraries need to both meet the day-to-day needs of teens and make sure they’re taking steps to make them feel welcome. (Read her article here.)
To keep drawing teens in, the most important step is ensuring that your library offers them what they’re looking for. Just like adult patrons, not all teens are the same, so it’s necessary to provide a wide range of content that’s relevant to them, both when it comes to fiction and nonfiction. It’s critical to make sure that the titles you’re offering to teens are diverse and appeal to many different tastes. There should also be plenty of titles that cater to their educational and academic needs. Take a look at JLG's high-school categories for an idea of the breadth of options.
It’s only natural that teens would be more inclined to continue visiting the library if they’re made to feel welcome. Teens sometimes feel that adults harbor biases against them, so it’s important to make sure your staff is genuine and welcoming to teens. While they may interact most with dedicated Y.A. librarians and assistants, you’ll want to ensure that every member of your team is just as committed to creating as positive an experience for teens as for your younger student visitors.
At the end of the day, you want to do your best to make sure that teens have a positive experience with your library and your staff from start to finish. That means offering helpful customer service, providing the titles that are most relevant to their needs and interests and, as much as possible, offering programs, events, and services that appeal to young people. In a time when negative experiences are frequently shared on social media, it’s more important than ever to ensure your teen visitors leave your library with a positive impression.