Ask the Teens! Five Resources to Help Build a Teen Advisory Board

by Valarie Swayze, Senior Editor, INALJ Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware

Ask the Teens! Five Resources to Help Build a Teen Advisory Board

valarie_swayze_300x201The library offers a unique experience to each member of the community. Similarly, each member of the community can offer a special contribution to the library. Teens are a talented group of patrons that can provide a spark to your youth services programs as they develop leadership and personal management skills. Further, offering a teen program with teen input will lead to a more authentic experience for the youth. They will enjoy their activities and share their experiences with friends. Teens can do anything from contributing to collection development to volunteering at events. Benefits to teens participating in teen advisory boards are numerous. Involvement in the community will help them build confidence as they have the opportunity to serve as mentors to younger children, learn how to manage time and resources, have the opportunity to communicate with adults, acquire community service hours, and much more. Teen advisory boards, TABs, also known as a teen advisory group (TAG), library teen council (LTC), youth advisor council (YAC), and youth adult advisory council (YAAC) can enhance your youth services program and create a fun atmosphere for the youth in your area. The following resources can help you get started in this purposeful endeavor. Note that many libraries that have successfully implemented TABs start by writing a mission statement that will guide the program.

Teen Advisory Boards – The Teen Advisory Boards resource page, sponsored by Youth Services Librarianship, is a great entry point to learning more about TABs. Learn what a TAB is and why your library needs one. Tips are provided for how to recruit, reward, and maintain TABs to build a long term mutually beneficial relationship between TAB members and your library. Also included is a list of ideas for your first meeting.

GCH Media Center – This Pinterest board from GCH Media Center is an excellent resource to see how teens are contributing to libraries. The board can also help generate ideas such as recruitment flyers, t-shirts, TAB generated event ideas, and awards. You can quickly see the value a TAB can bring to your library by pursuing this collection.

VOYA: Successful Teen Advisory Groups – “Teen Driven . . . with Guidance and a Helping Hand” written by Diane P. Tuccillo showcases the power of TABs when balanced with the right combination of adult leadership. Tuccillo presents several examples of the effectives of TABs and provides insight into the formula for success.

Slideshare: Teen Advisory Boards and You! – This slideshare by Lindsey Tomsu presents both the basics and advanced topics for TABs. This is a perfect primer that you can spend just a few minutes with to gain an understanding of the purpose of a TAB or a tool you can use to maintain a successful program.

Coronado Teen Library Blog – The Coronado Teen Library Blog, which is maintained by teen librarian Jacqueline Luna, exemplifies what your TAB can do to improve your offerings for teens and your library in general. The Coronado Library has organized a teen tech team, book club, and teen advisory group, all teen driven and fun! This blog will also give you ideas for marketing your teen book and media collections as well as youth library events. This is an excellent resource to see how the teens showcase their contributions to the library.