Many Jr. High and High School students have community service requirements to fulfill for school or church or (perhaps) something less wholesome. If we can come up with some jobs for these volunteers that are interesting and/or meaningful their level of investment will be higher, their perception of the library may change or elevate and you could engage some new or more frequent users. I just presented at the Illinois Library Association Conference on Teen Volunteers with some super awesome people (Lynn Elam and Tobe Liebert from Hinsdale Public Library, Amy Alessio and Dan Schnepf from Schaumburg Township District Library, and Diane Norris from Orland Park Public Library). If you are looking for meaningful ways to engage your teen patrons, here’s a few ideas:
1. Computer/Tech Mentors – a few libraries are pairing teens with adults to give one – on -one instruction on all things technological. Mentoring sessions could include learning to create a PowerPoint, opening photo attachments in e-mail, setting up an e-mail account and more.
2. Tech Aides – Libraries are also using teen volunteers during busy after school hours, evenings and weekends to help troubleshoot computers, printers and copiers.
3. Readers and Leaders – The Orland Park Public Library trains teens to work with pre-readers using Every Child Ready to Read initiatives as well as hands on multi-sensory activities that encourage pre-reading skills scanning from left to right, letter formation, and narrative skill development. The teens go through extensive training, are given checklists each week to work from and talk with parents after each session about what they worked on with their children.
4. Service Projects for the Community – Schaumburg Township Library District has been particularily proactive with it’s Teen Corps programs (http://teen.schaumburglibrary.org/). They create community service projects such as knitting projects to go to new babies and animals in shelter.
5. Service Projects in your Library – You can also use teens to help start/complete projects in your library such as creating youtube videos to promote your collection or give instruction on how to use something in the library, helping with space planning, rearranging/redesigning collections/furniture in you YA Department, and creating promotional flyers.