Non-Print Resource: Teen Librarian Toolbox

Resource: TLT/Teen Librarian’s Toolbox

Audience: Tween/Teen Librarians; parents

Whether you are a tweens librarian at a public library or a middle-school media specialist, chances are you never feel like there are enough hours in the day to accomplish all you have to do: attending staff meetings, developing and maintaining your collection, managing volunteers, training patrons on tech resources, fixing those resources, checking in books, checking out books, chasing after kids to return their overdue books, running reports, and oh, somewhere in between, you’re also supposed to plan and deliver library programs that support the needs of your young patrons.

Teen Librarian Toolbox is a great professional development website for tween and teen librarians who are short on time.  It was created by Karen Jensen and her team of public and school librarians, as well as subject experts who contribute posts on specific topics like manga, graphic novels, and gaming.  There are even two middle-schoolers who help review books for tweens.  Together, this team has over 50 years of library experience, and it’s very evident that they are passionate about this age group.

 As you can see the web site is quite well-organized and is divided into several sections.  I’ll show you the ones that I find most useful.

The TPiB (Teen Programs in a Box) section is probably one you’ll use most often.

    • The programs are divided by categories: book-inspired programs, craft-centered ones, interactive ones, and a section for “non-traditional” programming.
    • Note that most posts give a quick explanation of why this program was created, followed by a guide showing you how to execute the program, as well as any collection connections – the books and non-print resources that you might want to pull ahead of time and make available for the kids to check out after the program.  The page might have one central activity, or multiple activities you could choose from.  Some will have an outline of supplies needed, cost, links to external websites, and photos of the event or the craft.
    • Here’s an example: http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2012/08/stepping-through-screen-reality-tv-and.html
      • This one in particular is based on 4 reality shows.  Depending on your group, you can choose one that you know will go over well (say, the fashion or craft one), or, you can even take all four ideas, and stretch this out into a 4-week program.
      • Under the TPiB tab, you’ll find many “prepackaged” programs that you can adapt easily for your library and the age group you are working with, and they range from something super simple, to more elaborate programs that require a bit more planning.

The Booklists tab, I think, is very helpful because everything that has been reviewed or book talked on the site is organized by topics here, so that if you have a middle-schooler asking for books on “body image” or “bullying” or “zombies”, all you need to do is click on the link and all the books that have to do with that topic will be displayed.  Along the same lines is the Teen Issues page, meant more for librarians, which helps us understand today’s tweens/teens, what issues they are facing, etc.  There’s a page on reluctant readers, which would be useful for both public and school library patronsThe links might be articles on certain issues, recommended book titles, or links to important resources like Kids Helpline or other support groups.

There’s a section on technology – with resources like app reviews, social media, and online gaming in the library…basically everything you’ll need to know to “geek out” your library.  The calendar is very useful too, especially when you’re planning themed programs around holidays or special events, such as Teen Read Week coming up in October.   

I also loved the Teen Services 101 page, which has a variety of articles on putting together a successful and effective tween or teen program.  There’s even a section called “Things I Never Learned in Library School”, about different surprises and challenges that might come up in a real library setting.

As you can see, there is a LOT to explore on this website and really, I’ve only touched on a fraction of what’s available here.  My hope is I’ve shown you enough to pique your interest and that you’ll check it out on your own and find something useful for your program and your patrons.

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