T.A.G…a new generation of patrons

There are certain demographics that have a large number of attendees at libraries. Children have various programs such as readings, puppet shows, and performers, and adults are given the opportunity to join with others to discuss books and hold community meetings. Do any of you see what group is missing??
Young adults get a bad rap wherever they go; at malls they are followed by sales associates, at school they are put under stress by their peers as well as by staff members, and at libraries they are seen as the noisy ones. There is no denying that when you see a group of teens enter a room, no matter where that room may be, you become more aware, you get ready to take action as you can almost guarantee something will happen. We call it cute when a child has fun in the library and shouts out her happiness; we call it senility when an elderly person talks too loud; we call it annoying when a teen opens his or her mouth to inform their neighbor of a funny website they came across.
Our, yes OUR, opinion of young adults needs to change. Only once we gain respect for this highly criticized, yet invaluble resource will be be able to fully understand how special they are. This is why the Teen Advisory Groups at each of the St. Mary’s County Library branches are going to change the way librarians and library patrons see young adults.
Sherrie, the soon-to-be-retired children’s librarian, and myself hosted the very first TAG meeting last Thursday. We had six young adults show up, ranging from grades seven to twelve; earlier in the week another four teens had expressed interest in attending the meeting, but prior engagements kept them away. We hope to have twelve at our next meeting. Each of the teens was very excited about October’s Teen Gaming Night, five took blank book review forms and promised to return them in a few weeks, and the three that were permitted to use Myspace were very interested in showing their layout-making skills by dressing up the page once it became our “turn”. (The 3 TAG groups are going to share the responsibility ot maintaining the Myspace page.)
Planning events and keeping up with a social networking webpage are not the only reasons TAG was established in SMC. We need their input! We need to make them feel comfortable coming into the library; this can only be accomplished by asking them
1) What do you want to see on the shelves?
2) What do you think we can do differently to make you feel welcome?
3) What do young adults want to do at the library and how can we financially and realistically accomodate that?
I am looking forward to seeing where TAG takes us. I would appreciate your comments on the matter, either on this blog or emailed to me at apavis@stmalib.org

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3 thoughts on “T.A.G…a new generation of patrons

  1. You have quite a few very valid points about teens, young adults. We definitely need their patronage, input, joie de vie, etc….I have raised three teens (one is currently 14) and they are invaluable resources!!!!Good luck in your library.

  2. I loved your post about teens! They most certainly get a bad rap–I’ve heard negative comments from librarians in the tri-county area.I remember at the state-wide FISH training, a librarian was whining about teens and what should be done about them. I wanted to shout that she needs to check her own attitude! As the FISH philosophy says, we are responsible for how we feel and how we react to a situation. Anti-teen librarians need to realize: If teens scare you, whose fault is it?Thanks for your insightful comments. I hope the TAGs accomplish great things in St. Mary’s County.

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