The “Be”-Attitudes of Communicating with Staff
- Make sure staff know about new and popular materials.
- Make sure staff know how to address inquiries into current trends: vampire fiction, paranormal reads, what to read if you like He Hunger Games. Try and share one RA tool made by you or an online site weekly. Make sure there is a folder of teen links on the library favorites so staff know where to find them when RA questions arise and you are not around.
- Let staff know about events in popular teen culture: what books are being made into a movie, new music, and more. Highlight popular people and stories covered in your magazine collection, music collection, movie collection and online.
- Share campaigns aimed at teens like the It Gets Better project or [delete] digital drama.
- Share the latest research in adolescent development, technology use and trends, etc.
- And of course make sure staff know about upcoming events, new resources and services, teen services campaigns, etc.
- For things like a SRC or a Read Off Your Fines event or a special contest, develop specific FAQs outlining what they need to know including dates and prizes. Save your flier as a .jpeg and put it in your FAQ so staff see what the patrons will be seeing.
- Find creative ways to share what you’re reading and your reviews with staff, too.
As information and technology gurus, it is our job to lead the way. We don’t want to be reactive, we want to be proactive. We want to know about new trends, services, sites and more so that we have answers when our teens have questions.
- Keep up to date and share tools often and regularly. Be skimming a variety of outlets you can help staff stay ahead of the information and technology curve, truly showing your teens that the library is THE place for information. Get together a list of resources that meet your needs and then visit them frequently. Sign up for RSS feeds, newsletters and FB updates. Keep your list visible by your computer as a reminder to check them out. Cover a wide variety of topics: teen literature, teen development, teen culture, music, movies, technology. Also, be sure that a couple of marketing sites are in your rotation (and sites that are good AT marketing).
- Try to anticipate needs, trends and questions before they come up; it is a horrible feeling for staff to think they are the last to know something.
- Pass on positive feedback from teens, inspiring stories – those moments when a teen raves about the library.
- Keep staff in the know about statistics – book circulation, program attendance. It helps to see growth and positive outcomes. Show staff that the library is meeting the goals that you set.
Develop a regular format and schedule. A simple weekly e-mail works, or if it’s more your style or better suits your organization, develop a paper newsletter. Whatever method you choose, brand your communication in a way that is consistent with both your library and your overall teen services scheme. Give it a title: Teen News Today, The Teen Services Must List (yes, I am an Entertainment Weekly fan, great communication vehicle), Teen Services Top 10. Staff should come to anticipate and appreciate your weekly newsletter feed and find that it is a helpful tool.
Occasionally, have a fun staff contest. Ask staff to share their favorite teen reads. See if they can complete the latest contest sheet that your teens are doing. See how they do at the VOYA Pop Culture quiz. See if they can find the title. You can modify the same activities you do with your teens and make it a fun mini moment with staff for team building, communication and, again, buy in.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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