Think outside the box* for teen volunteer opportunities. (*box=library)Teen volunteering doesn't have to be limited to the physical library space to bring benefit to the library. The Mission Viejo Library offers teens a virtual volunteer opportunity: creating content for their Teen Voice blog. Teens earn their service credit by writing a certain number of pieces for the blog each month, and these can range from book reviews and lists to author interviews and beyond.
I love this idea of a virtual volunteer experience for teens for two big reasons. One, because not all teens are able to get to a physical location with consistency, which is a general requirement for in-library volunteering. Second, because it can be really tough to provide enough volunteer tasks to meet the demand of teens who need service hours. Bonus: teens are getting experience writing for a formal outlet, creating a portfolio that can help them in future endeavors.
Collaboration is imperative.This concept was shared specifically in the context of an IMLS-backed training system that is in development, but it resonates far beyond just that instance. We can do more with less strain on any individual partner when we collaborate, and the fact that collaborations prove that time and time again is a strong argument for collaboration being the rule, not the exception. Make collaborating your default mode and see how far you can go with your ideas and initiatives.
Offer varying types of programs for different types of customers.At the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Labs, programs take one of two formats: programs centered on learning and practicing specific skills at the instruction of "expert" mentors; and programs centered more on exploration and experimentation with equipment and skills, with input from peers also utilizing the space. This model allows them to reach customers with both specific and casual interests.
I'm thinking what that philosophy looks like for children's programs. When is storytime the best option, and when is a more free-flowing, self-directed family event a good alternative? What's a good balance between scheduled school-age programs and passive activities? This concept asks libraries to consider their customers and how they use the library, then provide access pathways for them to be able to interact in programs that will be meaningful to them.
I'd love to hear some of your biggest takeaways from #alaac14!