When I was 13 I didn't own a cell phone. I didn't pluck my eyebrows. I didn't spend hours taking pictures of myself and then Snapchat them to all my friends. I didn't feel inundated with unrealistic body image ideals presented by the media. Frankly, I just didn't care, and that's because I was still living in a kid's world. Sadly, I feel that with each trip around the sun this planet takes, children are entering the adult world sooner and sooner.
Being a teenager today is quite different than it was for me, just as my glamorous time of adolescence was different than my parents, and theirs before them. And I'm not just talking about today's popularity of social media or Minecraft or whatever the heck else is ~hip with the young folk~ these days.
In January 2014, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) released a report titled The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action. According to an article in American Libraries magazine published earlier this month called The Future of Library Services to Teens, "The report is the culmination of a project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and spearheaded by YALSA’s National Forum on Libraries and Teens, which focused on the needs of teens and how libraries can support those needs."
"Teens are living in an environment filled with mobile technology. They can find and download music, movies, and personal or academic reading materials from anywhere, not just at the library. Yet many teens do not have the skills or access to use the technology available to them. And in some cases, library staff working with teens don’t have the knowledge, skills, background, or support to help adolescents in the way needed in the 21st century," -- The Future of Library Services to Teens, American Libraries magazine
Coming up with a plan for how libraries can serve and attract teens in the unforeseeable future can be a daunting task, and with limited budgets and staff (and patron) reluctance to change, it can be especially difficult for libraries to start adjusting. However, according to the American Libraries article, there are small ways libraries across the country can get the ball rolling now, including:
- Hiring new staff to support digital media and learning initiatives and provide support to other staff and youth and families around the ideas of connected learning
- Talking with a state youth-services consultant about YALSA's Futures report and its impact on the work that libraries in the state do with and for teens
- Working with college and career readiness providers in the community in order to develop programs and services for teens that will help them succeed in life
- Providing training to colleagues on the ideas embedded in YALSA's Futures report