5. “You have to plan teen programs six months in advance and wonder how you can use the ‘teen participation’ model of program planning” (Velasquez, p. 106).
6. “All the teen programming is centralized. You and the teens at your branch don’t get a choice of what programs are available for teens,” (Velasquez, p. 107).
I am fortunate in that I have never encountered library policies like this in my career yet, because I can imagine that the process is very frustrating for the teen librarian. The thought of having to plan all of the programs out for six months in advance just seems completely ridiculous. I understand and respect that the PR or community relations department needs ample time to make up flyers, put together newsletters, and reserve space on the calendar, but that long of a time frame seems a bit excessive and rigid.
If a group of teens suggest a program but the librarian has to wait six months to have it, there is a very strong chance that by the time the program actually happens the teens will have completely lost interest/forgotten about it. Then, in the eyes of administration, the “outside of the box” program was a failure. And even worse, the teens will feel like they’re opinion didn’t matter or wasn’t taken seriously enough. Teens (and adults) often have short attention spans when it comes to different trends and interests. If a librarian decided in July to plan a Pokemon event, it would already have been out of date by October.
I have also never come across centralized programming that don’t allow for additions of original programs, but can see how that would be problematic. If a large library system like the New York Public Library carried out the same programs in every branch, it would probably be unsuccessful in many of them. Branches in the Bronx might have teens with different interests, trends, and needs than teens who live in Murray Hill or teens who live in Hamilton Heights.
I do think that there are benefits to consistent programs that are submitted in advance, and don’t think that those practices should be abolished. I just think it would be beneficial to have the ability to add other programs in as teens request them or they become relevant. This is also a way social media can come in handy. If a pop-up program doesn’t have time to make it into the newsletter, a quick post on social media can easily draw attention to it.
Velasquez, J. (2015). Real-world teen services. Chicago: ALA editions.