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Studio Rhode: Teen Makers

Teen Makers

Have a Backup Project on Hand

Teens love choice so if the first project is not something they find interesting, be flexible. Across projects that sought to engage teens, library staff needed to scrap at least one initial plan because their audience was not engaged. Library staff at Central Falls and Westerly were flexible enough to acknowledge their plans weren’t working and move on to something else, which helped keep teens interested and coming back.

Less Structure = More Experimentation and Exploration
After teaching the basics, allowing teens to play around can lead to authentic and valuable learning as they can explore at their own pace and allow their own interests to drive their experimentation. Some of the most exciting and authentic learning that happened in Central Falls arose when teens were allowed the freedom to play, experiment, and create with relatively no guidance.
Relationships First

Focusing on relationships first with teens is an important way to stem negative behaviors and increase engagement from teens. Using professional development resources from the Young Adult Library Association, the Central Falls Library explicitly worked as a team to improve their relationships with teens and felt that was responsible for much of their program attendance.

Kids and Tweens vs. Teens

What does not work for teens can work very well for kids or tweens. Both Central Falls and Westerly found that the exact formal programs they tried unsuccessfully with teens went over incredibly well with children and tweens. Those are future teens, so build positive relationships and engage them young! Virtual Reality

Empower Teens
Surveying teens about what they did and did not like about a program or service is a great place to start to hear the voices of your teen patrons. Gathering and using feedback from teens about what they want from library services is key. Take teen empowerment a step further by having a Teen Advisory Board, which can help make important decisions about teen services. Tap into teens existing passions, interests and networks; when teens are excited about something already, they’ll show up. Warwick Library centered their Spring Break Creation Camp around Minecraft, having teens build a to-scale 3D replica of the library in the already-popular game, and had to enable a waitlist to accommodate all the interested teens.