What If? (Fall 2012 Issue)

The fall issue of YALS has the theme of advocacy. Along with articles on a wide-range of advocacy topics there are also features on topics such as teen library spaces and 21st century trends.

photo courtesy of Flickr user dan centuryIn her article on 21st century trends, Sarah C. Malin looks at trends in education, social connections, and civic engagement and considers the role that libraries play in those areas. Those serving teens should be looking at what’s coming next in these areas in order to make sure they are ready to serve teens of tomorrow.

That looking forward can be hard to do. Here are some tips for staying on top of what’s next so you can be ready for what ifs:

  • Use social media. Yeah, yeah I know you’ve heard it all before. But Twitter and Facebook are great tools to use to keep up with what’s new and what’s coming. I find out so much from my Twitter feed about new research, programs libraries are trying out, grant projects, and so on. If it weren’t for Twitter there’s no way I would be as up on the world of teens and libraries as I am.
  • Read outside of the library box. Of course you should read YALS and other library journals that have information specifically related to the work you do. But, it’s also imperative that you read journals, magazines, newspapers, books, etc. that take you outside of that world. When you read something that isn’t teen or library related ask yourself, “is there a connection here that I’m not thinking about?” It might not be obvious, but there’s a good chance that what people are talking about for adults can and does have an impact on teens. (Or will have an impact in the future.)
  • Keep an open mind. No doubt, it can be scary to think about what might happen in the world of teens and libraries. But, if you start thinking about it now with an open mind – thinking about what’s best for teens and not just focusing on the way it’s always been, you’ll be better prepared to take the steps necessary to serve teens into the future.
  • Talk to teens and talk to tweens. It’s really important to find out what teens are looking for and need in library services. And, it’s also important to start finding out about tweens and what they are doing and using and thinking. It’s very possible that the tweens in your community are even more tech/mobile/device interested and savvy than the teens. (Tweens have had tech even more engrained in their lives than teens.) If that’s the case you need to be ready for the tweens who are device and mobile tech oriented when they reach adolescence. Then you don’t have to play catch-up. Again.

What if is a question you should ask yourself regularly. “What if the library were to provide opportunities for teens to…..” Let your imagination go. Think about what the future might bring for teens who publish their own books that live on the library shelves. What might the future bring when library space is more focused on teens hanging out, messing around, and geeking out. What if the future includes teens getting involved in civic activities through the library. What if……?

Don’t forget that YALSA is asking some what if questions as a part of their National Forum on Teens and Libraries. You can participate in some of this questioning during the virtual town hall meetings taking place this spring.

Check out the fall issue of YALS for more information on YALSA projects and on the issue’s theme – advocacy. If you are a YALSA member YALS is a perk of your membership dues. If not a member learn how to join, or learn how to subscribe

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