Reaching Teens at the Library

I recently listened to a webinar about dealing with teens in the library.  The presenter, Erin Downey Howerton, described teens as “adults without adult experience.”  I think she got it spot on.  As someone who works with teens, I try to keep this in mind.  When teens talk to librarians, they aren’t looking for another adult to tell them what to do.  They are looking for someone to recommend a good book, talk about the latest music, or just listen to what they have to say.

A Teen Advisory Board provides teens with a place to share their thoughts about books, music, movies, the library, and life in general.  I hope our TAB group reinforces the idea that the library can be a “third space.”  After home and school, many teens see the library as a meeting place to connect with others, do homework, or go online.  The Ellsworth Public Library Teen Advisory Board, although small, is one of the most rewarding programs for me.  If I could give teens one piece of advice to take with them through life, it would be “DFTBA.”  So, what do these 5 letters mean?  Don’t Forget to be Awesome.  Everyone has his/her own definition of awesome, but in general, I think it boils down to the same concept: do your best, respect others, and believe in yourself enough to take a chance.  No matter what your future goals are, DFTBA rings true for everyone.

Image from Pinterest

DFTBA is John Green’s mantra.  He is the author of many insightful YA novels (including Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, and The Fault in our Stars) and happens to be the spokesperson for this year’s Teen Read Week.

At the Ellsworth Public Library, the Youth Services Department has a few ideas for Teen Read Week:

In our YA room, we will have a Teen Patron Pick book display (hopefully with some short book reviews by the teens).

We plan to wrap up some YA books that may have been overlooked (due to an unappealing cover or old copyright date) and encourage teens to check out these “mystery reads.”

We are getting a bulletin board for the YA room so we can start a “conversation” (in the form of post it notes) about what teens are reading. For Teen Read Week, we’ll ask them to write down the facebook status for a character in a book they’re reading (this idea was “borrowed” from a Pinterest board about Teen Programs). How do you plan to celebrate Teen Read Week?


Remember “DFTBA!”



Filed under have you heard about this amazing author?, teen program

3 responses to “Reaching Teens at the Library

  1. I love the Don’t forget to be awesome motto! In the summer, I often teach incoming college freshmen and we talk about what it means to be a teen (even though they’re at the tail end of their teen years) and one student said “it means we’re adults in training”. I thought that was quite a nice way of putting it!

    • That’s a great way to put it! I think the teenage years (although at times frustrating) are also so exciting because teens are figuring out who they want to be.

      Have you heard of the site I just came across it the other day. It’s an organization for young people (teens through mid-20s) to make a difference in the world through volunteering and fundraising. I thought it was a great way to harness their enthusiasm and wish to make the world a better place, and it’s definitely a way to be awesome 🙂

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