Three Taboos to Break With Your Teens & Improve Your Service
Teenagers are wonderful, complex, interesting beings, and sometimes, they need their own set of social rules. Just as we crouch down on the floor to talk to preschoolers and speak up to talk with the senior citizen who needs it, we need to change some of our habits to effectively work with teens. It’s for their own good — and yours too!
Shamelessly break these taboos with your teen patrons.
1. Ask Their Age: “How old are you?” “What grade are you in?”
I work with teens every day and it would be hard for me to guess the ages of the young women seen on TV shows like Glee. You don’t need to know how old your patron is to provide good service, but it can be useful information. For example, it’s handy to know if, when she says she wants something romantic, she’s an 11 year old with visions of fairy tale romance who might love twisted Cinderella retelling? Or is she actually fifteen, looking for something with more complexity and realism? Likewise when the teen asks for a book about Lewis and Clark, or Civil Rights. Knowing the approximate age/grade/reading* level is key in getting the right book into the right teen’s hands.
Filed under: Professional Development
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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