If I met Patrick Jones on the street I’d probably threaten him with a hair cut, clean shave, and a new t-shirt. On the other hand, his appearance is undoubtedly attracting to the demographic he’s trying to captivate; teens. He is currently working with young men at a correctional facility, but he has spent time in numerous libraries across the country building more effective young adult programs. His training video Moments of Truth helped me define what my role as a TAG advisor and a library employee was supposed to be. This is what I learned from Patrick Jones:
1) A teen is a work in progress. I especially liked his comparison of telling a teen to “act like an adult” and yelling at an orange construction cone to “hurry up and finish”. The outcome in either situation is the same; a blank stare from something that has absolutely no control over its position in the world. We all need to be patient when it comes to working with teens because they are already feeling so misplaced. By giving them a little more space to observe and participate in the world around them, we will relieve them of some of the tension winding up in their little bodies.
2) P.J. had ten “core values”; my favorite was Youth Development. While we are not obligated to assist in the development of our youth, it is quite beneficial to us if we do so. Our community thrives if we have better educated, involved teens. Those teens grow up and become our state & local officials, policemen, teachers, etc. Do you see the connection? A little tidbit: the cost of kids getting into trouble is detrimental to communities. Programs we host and opportunities we give young adults to enjoy themselves in a safe, controlled environment, the more we are improving our community.
3) Fine arts programs are being taken away from school curriculums across the country. We can be an outlet for teen creativity through such means as hosting photography contests and open mic nights.
4) This one we can practice daily: Find common ground with the young adults that come in the library, whether it’s their favorite football team (actually look at the jersey they’re always wearing), or a class they’re taking. Ask them about it! Did you help them research for the science fair? Ask them how it turned out.
I recommend that all SMC library staff members attend the Patrick Jones training. The self-reflection it encouraged me to do was a real eye-opener. And for those of you who don’t think you need it, you do. In fact, I’m prepared to bet that you are the one who needs it the most…