| Mission Possible
By Nicole Cuadra Feb 15, 2007
The library is for everyone, and everyone includes teens! While teens in the library may arouse a range of feelings on the part of adults, the truth is that they are an underserved demographic with specific needs and interests: not all schools have libraries these days, yet teens have a strong need for information resources.
Nicole Termini, teen services librarian.
Photo: Jennifer Pickens
In order to make library services more responsive to teens, the trend in libraries nationwide is to direct resources into dedicated teen services. And, as goes the nation, so goes the Mission Branch Library…
I asked Nicole Termini, the Mission Branch’s new teen services librarian, to give us a day in the life of a teen librarian:
Nicole Cuadra: What do you do as a teen librarian?
Nicole Termini: Outreach is key, so I visit schools to deliver booktalks and promote what the library has to offer. Booktalks are an excellent way to promote recreational reading - it's kind of like storytime for the teen set. We try to get them excited about the books.
We also bring authors to schools to talk to the kids and read from their works. We are doing this next month at John O'connell and Mission high schools with E-Fierce for her book The sista hood : on the mic : a novel. We go pretty wild with the school visits right before summer to promote the teen summer read program.
I also host class visits here at the library. The nature of these visits varies, but may include any of the following: reader's advisory, booktalking, library orientation, database instruction, or research help. Planning and overseeing programs is something that will come later at Mission, although we do host free SAT workshops every year here at the branch, with the next one coming up in April.
Selecting materials and creating booklists is another part of the job. We need to stay tuned to the teen world as much as possible so we know what young people are into! We always encourage teens to make suggestions so that we have a collection that reflects their needs and interests, but I'm also making it formal by recruiting for a branch Teen Advisory Council.
Cuadra: What is a Teen Advisory Council?
Termini: The San Francisco Public Library Teen Advisory Council aims to make the library more visible and relevant for teenagers, so that they will know about the great free resources we have for them, right here in our city. The council is also the vehicle for teens to participate in library decisions. It meets with library administrators to let them know what improvements the library can make to welcome all teens.
Cuadra: Which schools do you work with?
Termini: Let me see…Horace Mann Middle School, John O'Connell High School, Immaculate Conception Academy, Everett and Mission High School. I will soon approach Hilltop/Real Alternatives, James Lick, and Metropolitan Arts/Tech.
Cuadra: What do you like about being a teen librarian?
Termini: Making connections with teens; it's wonderful! For example, after I first started doing outreach at Horace Mann one student, previously a very reluctant reader, came into the library the week after I spoke to her class. As I was helping her look for books she said, "See, I like reading now!!" I later spoke to her teacher who informed me that this student would be passing the class thanks to her change in direction. I also love reading teen literature. These kids are lucky; there are so many great authors writing for teens these days!
Cuadra: What are teens into reading these days?
Termini: Urban fiction, graphic novels, and anything sort of hard core - by that I mean novels in which the characters are going through all kinds of life problems and hard times.
Cuadra: If you were talking to a parent trying to get their teen interested in reading, what would you advise?
Termini: Turn off the screen, television or computer! Try to make reading a part of your daily routine, the sooner the better. Also, don't push your reading agenda on them-let your teen read whatever he or she wants. While assigned reading may not appeal to them, recreational reading of their own choice might.
Cuadra: What do you want teens (and their parents) to know about you?
Termini: I want them to know that I am here to help their teens and that I will always treat them with respect.
Cuadra: Talk about sharing the library with adults.
Termini: It's challenging. Most adults seem willing to share the space. It's only natural for teens to be a little noisy, you know, they like to chat and laugh, but when they get a little loud they adults are apt to complain.
My goal is to make teens feel like they are welcome in the library. Many libraries are creating well-defined teen spaces so that there is a place for them at the library where they can be teenagers. Due to space restrictions, we don't have that here at Mission Branch, but I am working on finding the middle ground. With some furniture dividers and some comfortable chairs, we may be able to carve out a space yet. It's my dream.
Any teens interested in forming the first Mission Branch Library Teen Advisory Council should contact Nicole Termini at email@example.com, or call her at 355-5738.
The Mission Branch Library is located at 300 Bartlett St., at 24th Street between Mission and Valencia. Call (415) 355-2828 for specific hours.
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